The Austin Chronicle

Moontower 2014, Day 3: Marc Maron

By Scott Schinder, April 28, 2014, 11:30am, All Over Creation

Although his current late-blooming career surge was sparked by the popularity of his interview podcast WTF and its spinoff IFC sitcom Maron, the true medium of veteran comic's-comic Marc Maron has always been the live stage.

In nearly three decades as a stand-up, he's earned a rep as a fearless, fiercely original voice with a knack for channeling seething rage and myriad insecurities into illuminating performance art, and exploring the darkest corners of his tortured psyche in a manner that's equally harrowing and hilarious. Although his unflinching insights are prone to alienate the fainthearted, Maron also maintains an underlying sense of playful self-awareness that keeps even his most raw revelations entertaining rather than merely troubling.

Fortunately, the young fans who have tapped into the 50-year-old Maron's distinctive sensibility via his podcast seem to have embraced his edgy stand-up with equal enthusiasm. So he had a full, highly receptive house for his rambling but consistently compelling Paramount set, which embodied the combination of raw-nerved immediacy and bemused self-reflection that he manifests when he's firing on all cylinders.

Although Maron is more than capable of delivering tight, well-crafted shows when he's so inclined, he's a sufficiently riveting performer that his less structured, more unhinged sets – of which this was one – can be equally satisfying. The anything-can-happen volatility that's a hallmark of such evenings manifested itself early on, when Maron berated an overly chatty female audience member who had the poor judgment to distract him mid-rant, causing her to eventually walk out.

That confrontation set the tone for the rest of the show, with Maron plumbing the depths of anger, romantic angst, and existential terror, ultimately tying the thematic threads together with an extended account of an extra-frustrating cable company dispute, an anecdote that resolved itself on an unexpected note of spiritual resolution. As with all of Maron's best work, the effect was both cathartic and uplifting.

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