LIVE: Marc Maron @ The Egg, 2/1/13

Review by Dan Jossman

Comedian and podcaster extraordinaire Marc Maron brought his sharp, reflective comedy to The Egg last Friday (February 1) for the inaugural stop of his “Out of the Garage” tour. Maron, a 20-plus-year stand-up veteran, has earned massive exposure hosting the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron” in his garage studio. Known for curiously prodding his celebrity interviewees on the podcast, he shifted his attention inward for the new tour.

Assuming a tense, statuesque pose, Maron began the show lamenting the unexpectedly weak ticket sales that forced the management to downscale the venue to the smaller Swyer stage. Ultimately, the change proved beneficial; Maron had the privilege of performing to a nearly full theater of loyal fans, and the audience was treated to an intimate, interactive show that will stand unique against future tour dates.

Maron admitted to having very little planned going into the show, and relished being in the position to look like a genius if he killed or merely lazy if he bombed. “I don’t want to be a laugh a minute… I’d rather have a conversation… If you want jokes, see Lisa Lampanelli.” This unguided approach to his first exodus “Out of the Garage” sometimes meandered into obscure territories, but Maron had the comic aptitude to never get lost. Digressions included his old job as a line cook upon recognizing a former co-worker in the audience, dealing with Albany radio personalities, identifying twitter buddies, and an extended misunderstanding with an accidental heckler.

Amidst the unpredictability, Maron was able to strike the delicate balance of pleasing diehard fans while remaining accessible to the uninitiated; one foot firmly planted in the garage, the other touching new ground. Adherents to the cult of Maron were rewarded with esoterica and new material to weave into the grand narrative of Maron’s biography, while newcomers were welcomed into the conversation through biting observations of annoying atheists, Hasidic Jews, attracting younger women, interviewing Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, autoerotic asphyxiation, pornography, cat pee, the perils of judging people, and mouth cancer. As on his podcast, Maron’s relentless honesty and willingness to explore elevated the show beyond “ha-ha” funny to something genuinely personal and insightful. “Laughs that could be crying,” as he would say.

The audience certainly got their money’s worth. Maron’s set lasted well over the typical 60 minutes; when Maron paused to reflect how quickly time was passing, the audience confirmed. Two parties lost in conversation. When they each were satisfied, Maron took a bow and was awarded a standing ovation. Clearly, the lack of planning paid off.

Endearingly awkward hipster Mike Lawrence opened the show with a mixture of gentle humiliations and goofy pop-culture scenarios, complemented by playful exchanges with the audience. His best bit, on the benefits of head injuries in football, “They get to live in a mansion. Would you want to live in a mansion with Alzheimer’s? That’s the best way to have Alzheimer’s – everyday you wake and some has to explain that it’s your mansion.” The millennial standard, very well executed.

And coming this spring on cable channel IFC is “Maron”:

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