Marc Maron out of the Cat Ranch and into the Palms

Other comedy podcasts, of course, make interviewing (or at least bullshitting with) comics their bread and butter. It’s a go-to trope that’s done — and done exceedingly well — by other players in the still-young field, like Never Not Funny, Sound of Young America and Comedy Bang Bang.

None of them, though, do it with the high-wire tension of Marc Maron’s WTF. The show does outright dread, awkwardness, sadness and, most of all bursting catharsis, better than any other podcast on the market. It’s been rewarded with millions of downloads, an outpouring of critical praise and a perpetual spot at the top of iTunes’ comedy podcasts.

Its host, the 47-year-old Maron, has been a veteran presence of the alternative comedy scene, helping organize the showcase at New York’s Luna Lounge in the ’90s. Yet despite numerous appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, a brief role in Almost Famous and a long tenure with defunct left-wing radio network Air America, swelling popularity eluded Maron. That is, until almost two years ago when the first WTF, recorded in his garage (which he calls his “Cat Ranch”) went up on iTunes, starting a grass-roots conquest of the format.

On Thursday, Maron kicks off the first of three days at the Palms’ Playboy Comedy Club(10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, $39.99.). We caught up with him to talk about the evolution of the show, his changing role in the comedy landscape and why he’s not really into Las Vegas.

Congratulations on the 200th show.

Thank you man. Thanks a lot. It’s amazing we made it this far.

The last time you were here you wound up doing the episode on Ron Shock. I saw you reached out to Carrot Top on Twitter. Do you have any plans to do an episode when you’re out here?

He never got back to me. I’d like to interview somebody. Who else is out there man?

Right now, there aren’t a lot of other headlining comics.

How about Louie Anderson, is he out there?

Yeah, he’s out at Palace Station.

Penn Jillette would be good, but I don’t know how to get hold of him. Well, we’ll see if Carrot Top gets back to me. I don’t think he’s gonna. I know he saw the Tweet. What are you going to do? We’ll see what happens. I’ll bring my gear. I’m kind of stocked up on interviews for a while.

You never made a secret of the fact that you’re not a big fan of Vegas. What is it you don’t like, and what brings you back?

Well, you know, I like doing stand-up. There’s part of me that believes that I should be able to play Vegas and it’s part of show business. I’m not so sure that’s the Vegas that I have in my mind. I have the Vegas my grandmother used to go to in my mind, when there was
something a little more intimate and something a little more spectacular about it in a way that was show business at that time. The only reason I don’t like Vegas is no matter how hard it tries to be spectacular and glamorous, it just gets undermined by the parades of humanity that flow through it. I’m not saying I’m better than them or anything else. The Bellagio or the Wynn or any of them, the ongoing parade of weird, glazed, middle American neediness and compulsivity that kind of moves through the hallways, it kind of takes a little bit away from the marble floors.

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