‘Maron’ Series Premiere Review: “Internet Troll”
After resurrecting his career with his 'WTF' podcast, Marc Maron is now doing what he might have been asked to do two decades ago: He's anchoring a sitcom. Born partly out of his podcast and own life, his sitcom 'Maron' found a home at IFC, which seems a good fit. The first episode is shaggy, but it does capture Marc Maron fairly well, and it feels like it could grow into something great.
The episode starts with a little bit of an introduction to Marc Maron (who mentions his podcast and his 47 Conan O'Brien appearances) as he talks to his female vet in a bid for a date. She's married, but then he gets distracted by someone smack-talking him on twitter. During one of his podcast, he frets about running into his ex-wife, and while driving home from the vet his cat Boomer defecates, and so he stops into a coffee shop to clean up his cat. And it's there that he runs into his ex, who's now pregnant, and her new husband. He calls it a "spite baby," and she insults his narcissism. It goes downhill from there. Back in the car, he reads more insults from someone on twitter named "Dragon Master."
Finally home, Marc finds 'Kids in the Hall's David Foley on his porch, and Foley is drunk. Once inside, Foley rests on the floor, and the two commiserate on being divorced. Maron gets on his computer, sees more insults from "Dragon Master,' and he tries to find out who "Dragon" is. Maron finds out that "DM" is is named Darryl and is going to play D&D that day, and so Marc goes to talk to him with Foley in tow. Maron suggests that he's doing this for everyone who's ever been bullied, which makes Dave think Marc's gay.
While driving, Foley asks how many cats Marc has, and Marc says he has three, and then a bunch who just hang around. This leads to a discussion about dogs and cats, and Marc says he doesn't want a dog because it's an animal that needs more attention than he does, while many of his romances have been with women who act like cats. Marc arrives, but Dave won't go inside. Inside the comic book shop, the cashier won't point him to Darryl (Erik Charles Nielsen, AKA 'Community's Garrett), but Marc finds him anyway. When Maron confronts him, Darryl says it's Marc who should be embarrassed as he and his friends just find it funny to piss Marc off. Then Dave comes in and all the geeks love him. Marc gets his revenge by stealing stuff.
On the drive back, Foley tells Marc he isn't for everyone. They sit to record the podcast, but Marc isn't in to it, so they stop. Marc then goes to buy cat food. He gets help from one of the people working there, and it turns out the guy is a huge fan, but when the man asks if Marc wants to come over, Marc declines. Recording some more, he talks about being a jerk, but trying to work on it. The episode ends with Marc going to the fan's house, but he declines to adopt more cats, which may have been why he was invited over in the first place.
As someone who's been listening to Marc Maron's podcast for years (and remember him from his late night appearances and his brief run as the host of Comedy Central's 'Short Attention Span Theater'), this seems the most optimal show for Maron to front. Perhaps years of listening to him talk about himself, the idea of Maron playing anyone but himself might have been too hard to accept. But even though it's firmly focused on it's comedian/star playing himself, it's important to note that 'Maron' never feels like the second cousin or carbon copy of Louis C.K.'s show 'Louie,' even if they have a lot in common.
For much of the show, Maron's the straight man, as he lets both Foley and Nielsen lay into him. Indeed, Foley, from showing up drunk, to urinating outdoors because it feels good, to being readily accepted by the nerds, has most of the best moments. Maron's high point is his fight with his ex-wife, but the set up of him talking about it happens so quickly before it happens that I wonder if the podcast stuff was meant to open the episode, but got shuffled when they realized this would be the first episode. The speed to which he talks about running into his ex-wife and then running into her felt too quick. That said, "Spite baby" made me chortle.
The podcast elements, which right now seem to function as "Marc Maron commenting on what's happened/going to happen" may be the weakest element in that they feel the most sitcom-y, as it's a device that's been employed for years (though it can work), and feels more on the nose than when people like Jerry Seinfeld or Louis C.K. do stand-up wraparounds. Regardless, there are plenty of big laughs in this episode, and I can't wait to see how the show develops.