He’s nearing the third anniversary of his first show (9/1/09). It’s been interesting to hear the evolution of the show and, especially, Marc himself. I’ve listened to three years of someone’s life, compressed into ~16 days worth of audio. The first episodes were spontaneous and lacked direction, but there was excitement in the air. Then, slowly, Marc began to settle into the groove. The show became less about Marc and more about his guests. Early in the catalog Marc would need several guests and silly bits to fill ~50 minutes of time, but eventually he matured as an interviewer and could fill ~80 minutes with only one subject.
3 years ago Marc was bitter and burned - still trying to piece his life back together after an ugly divorce. Today he’s 2 years into a relationship with a woman 20 years his junior - a woman who was just a fan who randomly emailed him one day proposing they hook up. He has voluntarily publicized his emotional evolution. He used to frequently joke that he “lost a brother to children,” and within the past 6 months or so his tone has changed and he seems to be genuinely be processing what it might mean to actually become a father. Just like everything else on the show, he explores that subject openly and honestly, demonstrating his fears, his selfishness, and his love for his girlfriend.
Some episodes capture my complete attention while I find myself easily distracted during others. My favorites are those in which the interview is more of a conversation, where Marc and his guest(s) share time on the mic. I strongly dislike the shows in which the guest constantly talks and Marc hardly has a chance to ask any questions (295 - JB Smoove comes to mind, as I just heard it last week). I’ve been introduced to some truly hilarious comedians (Bob Ducca blew me away in 201) and writers (291 - Mark Duplass inspired me to watch The League and I ended up watching all three seasons in 5 days because it’s so hilarious).
If I was a drinker I’d probably have developed the WTF Drinking Game by now. Here are some triggers:
- Marc asks a guest about Lorne Michaels
- Someone’s iPhone makes a noise
- Marc mentions Ernest Becker’s Denial of Death
- Someone mentions Luna Lounge
- Marc says “everyone can just move down one seat” during a Live WTF episode
- “Are we good?”
- Someone mentions Kinison, Hicks, Bruce, Pryor, Cosby, Carlin, or Hedberg
- The guest is from New Jersey
He’s shown us his best and his worst. His tribute episode to Greg Giraldo was moving, and he is audibly shaken anytime he passes along news of a peer’s passing. He’s built a platform where friends and acquaintances feel comfortable coming in to talk about their depression and failed suicide attempts (190 - Todd Hanson), perform career suicide (75/76 - Carlos Mencia), publicly declare their homosexuality (245 - Todd Glass), and mend their fences with Marc (238 - Michael Ian Black, 111/112 - Louis CK, and dozens more).
Just when I think he’s run out of interesting guests, he pulls another one out of the barrel, and perhaps that’s his greatest talent; he’s able to extract conversation from almost every guest that is both captivating and thought-provoking, but heavily seasoned with good doses of comedy. I’ll never forget Episode 147 - Stephen Tobolowsky because I had no idea who the guy was when I started listening, but his stories were amazing and then I googled him and realized it was an actor I’d seen in countless films and tv shows and I had a breakthrough moment where I realized that these are all real people with real lives and real problems and real successes.
Since the beginning I had always related to much of Marc’s personality, but when he mentioned his obsession with Food Network’s Chopped - my favorite TV show that is not named Bob’s Burgers (of which many writers and voice talents have appeared on WTF) or Louie (really in a league of its own) - and the fact that some episodes bring him to tears, I realized we were similar on a pretty fundamental level. By now I feel like Marc is a good friend. I know more about him than I do about most of the people I interact with on a daily basis.
Bring on the next ~16 hours.