When a fan randomly approached Marc Maron on the street a few years ago and told him his comedic style is a crossbreed of Iggy Pop and Woody Allen, the New Jersey-born comic agreed.
In fact, Maron agreed with the branding so much he added the comparison into his official bio. But now, the veteran 48-year-old comic and "WTF" podcast host says things have changed.
"I've got to update that bio," said Maron, who has released four comedy albums to date. "I'm not as frenetic, I'm still fairly neurotic on some level but not in a Woody Allen way. I'm really introspective and I wouldn't know what to tell you about what my stand-up is right now. I just know that, in terms of my disposition on stage, it's about as pure and comfortable as it's ever been in my life. So that's good."
Actually, a lot of good things are happening for Maron. Now living in Los Angeles, his career is at an all-time high thanks to the success of his "WTF with Marc Maron" podcast, which he self-produces. The show features ample dialogue and in-depth interviews with celebrities like Conan O'Brien, Louis CK, Robin Williams, Judd Apatow and Ben Stiller — all inside his modest garage.
So how does Maron convince mega stars like O'Brien to stop by his humble abode?
"With Conan, I have an on-camera relationship with him because I was on the show so much," Maron said. "When we asked him to be on the show I was flattered and amazed that he'd make a trip to the garage."
Maron said his podcast helps to keep the lost art of conversation alive.
"In most cases, even if I know somebody, this is the first time we've talked for this long," he said of his celebrity interviews. "Does anybody ever sit down and just talk for an hour anymore? It's a lost form of communication in this world we live in. To sit down and really just talk about whatever with another individual for an hour is a very soul-enriching bit of business that I think we don't experience much as people."
The podcast often hits No. 1 on the iTunes comedy charts, boasts more than 36 million downloads to date and has been called a "must-listen" by Vanity Fair and The New York Times, among others.
"The podcast was born out of desperation. My comedy career had sort of hit a wall," he said. "I had done some radio and I was fired from a radio job that I didn't even want to be at in the first place. I was in the middle of divorce, I was broke — my career was really sort of washed up."
It was at this dire moment Maron decided to do things on his own terms, and work in this emerging new format.
"I think the medium is interesting," Maron said of podcasts. "I don't have a lot of faith in terrestrial radio, having done it. It's just very nice to have complete control of what you're doing and being in a young medium that's just starting to take form in the world."
"WTF" averages about 680,000 downloads a week or 2.75 million downloads per month. Was Maron expecting this success when he first started the talk show?
"If you think that I would in any way expect something like that then you don't know me that well," Maron said with a laugh. "I had absolutely no idea this would happen. I was just hoping I could get a couple thousand people to listen — just to be encouraged to keep doing it.
"It's completely humbling and I'm thrilled about it," he added. "I don't tend to think about how many people are listening or that stuff. I don't know if it's because I'm getting older or my brain's going soft. Maybe I just don't need to put myself in that position, to pressure myself along those lines. For me it's really just about getting out there in the garage."