Just a quick message from Marc to let you know that this app will be retired soon. More than 800 WTF Episodes are now available for free on all major podcast apps.
Singer-songwriter Laura Veirs has something to prove with her latest album, Found Light. After divorce ended her 20-years-long collaborative relationship with her producer husband, Laura not only needed to prove she could create a new album independently, but she needed to be sure of who she was in the world going forward. Laura and Marc talk about love and loss and the power of therapeutic mushrooms. They also talk about how Laura suffers from imposter syndrome when she’s around her other collaborators, k.d. lang and Neko Case.
Comedian Atsuko Okatsuka has familiarity with garages. But unlike Marc, she didn’t start a podcast in one. She lived in one with her mother and grandmother for seven years, as three generations of immigrant women dealt with cramped quarters, eating disorders and schizophrenia. Atsuko tells Marc how she was unaware as a young girl that her trip from Japan to America was going to become permanent and how her discovery of standup comedy helped her find her voice.
Dana Gould is in his 40th year of doing standup. He and Marc talk about what they’ve learned in their decades of comedy, how they came to accept their limitations, and how they see themselves in today’s standup environment. Dana also explains why he went back on stage after years of giving it up to work on The Simpsons, why he feels that progress in comedy means knowing when you were wrong, and why he always goes back to George Carlin.
Kate Berlant’s comedy defies easy categorization. That’s okay with Kate, who thinks people use a lot of empty terms to pin down comedy. Kate and Marc talk about how growing up in the art world helped Kate take a different approach when she got on the comedy stage as a teenager. They also talk about Kate’s sketch work with fellow comedian John Early, the inspiration she took from the late Brody Stevens, and why her Bo Burnham-directed comedy special remains in limbo.
When Jen Statsky and her collaborators were creating the show Hacks, they knew they needed to nail the portrayal of life in standup comedy because comics will quickly know if they got it wrong. Marc talks with Jen about how they did, indeed, nail it. They also talk about her work at The Onion and on shows like Parks and Rec, The Good Place, Broad City and Lady Dynamite. Plus, Jen and Marc talk about stuffing your feelings, getting better at acknowledging them, and understanding why growing up in Boston might lead you to ignoring them.
Marc has a very direct question for his old friend Greg Proops: “Did we lose?” In the fight for the heart and soul of comedy, there is real uncertainty about the current trajectory. What legacy did the alternative comedy movement leave, if any? Did the Obama years create a false sense of security for popular comedians that made them drop the ball? Will a there be a counterforce to the dominant strain of reactionary backlash comedy? Marc and Greg interrogate these questions and their own roles in the past three decades of comedy.
For a while, Lara Beitz could only get on stage to do comedy if she was hammered. She’d drink to feel less nervous but then there wasn’t a time when she didn’t feel nervous, so she was just always drinking. Lara and Marc talk about their shared experiences with addiction and recovery as they were developing their voices as comedians. Lara also looks back on an upbringing that was clouded by the specter of alcoholism and how she had to come to terms with it later in life.
Oscar and Emmy-winning visual effects artist Phil Tippett is responsible for some of the most memorable effects in movies history, like the alien chess match in Star Wars, the giant robot walkers in The Empire Strikes Back, the ED-209 in RoboCop and more. And because his work is almost always rooted in stop-motion animation, Phil tends to be meticulous. It’s why, as he tells Marc, he started his first film 30 years ago and it’s only complete now. They talk about the creation of this movie, Mad God, and how it drove Phil to the brink.
Jesus Trejo knows he put in the work to become a paid regular at The Comedy Store, spending years doing open mic spots and performing at 1am for a handful of people. Not to mention paying his dues unclogging toilets at the club and putting up Mitzi Shore’s Christmas tree. But even with all of that behind him, Jesus still breaks out in a sweat when he tells Marc about those times he completely bombed as he was trying to learn the ropes. Jesus also tells Marc about being a caregiver for both his parents and what gave him the courage to work that real life scenario into his act.
Rosie Perez initially thought success would paper over her trauma. But the emotional ramifications from the abuse she went through as a child were never going to stay hidden for long. Rosie and Marc talk about how acting is still risky for her but now she has tools to help work through the high-wire act of tapping into dark places. They also talk about her friendship with Spike Lee, her reasons for working a lot, and her two current series, The Flight Attendant and Now & Then.
From 2018, Ray Liotta talks with Marc about getting his start in soap operas, the debt he owes to Melanie Griffith, and the emotional filming of Goodfellas. Ray died on May 26, 2022 at age 67.
Joey Camen left a dysfunctional home in Detroit as a teenager and, thanks to an ad he saw in a Playboy, knew exactly where he needed to go. He went straight to the brand new club on the Sunset Strip, The Comedy Store, and quickly became one of the club’s first regulars. Joey and Marc talk about those early days of the Store, living in fear of Mitzi, and becoming friends with the likes of Paul Mooney and Richard Pryor before falling under the tutelage of legendary voice actor Daws Butler.
This is an episode about history. Collective history and personal history. Marc finds himself in Washington, DC on the latest leg of his standup tour, a place imbued with symbolism, both for what we want it to be, but also what we really are. And it’s where Marc’s college roommate lives. First, Marc reckons with a history of injustice at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture with curator Dr. Dwandalyn Reece. Then Marc tries to piece together his own past with his old roommate, Lance Mion.
Michael Che wanted out his life on the Lower East Side, but his initial path was not comedy. It was painting and fine art. Michael tells Marc how he became enamored with standup while living in his brother’s basement, how he came to love the grind of building an act, and how he puts everything he’s learned into his sketch show, That Damn Michael Che. They also talk about the growing pains of doing Weekend Update on SNL and why hosting award shows isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Sandra Oh spent much of her career believing certain opportunities weren’t going to come her way because they’re just not afforded to Asian actors. Sandra and Marc talk about what she found in herself to overcome that sense of externally imposed limitations and how she built a body of work including Grey’s Anatomy, Sideways, Killing Eve and The Chair. Sandra also explains how she’s drawing inspiration from John C. Reilly in this next phase of her life as an actor.
The Doobie Brothers is a band with almost twenty official members throughout its five decades of existence. But Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons have been playing guitar and performing vocals for the band since Day One. Tom and Pat talk with Marc about how their family-like band has grown and evolved throughout the years, particularly during iterations with members like Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Michael McDonald. Also, during his time in Tulsa, Marc pays a visit to the new Bob Dylan Center and talks with its director, Steven Jenkins.
Marc remembers the life and comedy of Dan Vitale, a comedian whose raw and unapologetically personal style of stand-up was a big influence on a young Marc Maron. Marc talks about how his perception of what it meant to be a stand-up comic changed while watching Dan, how their talk in 2014 exemplified WTF, and how the connection they maintained in the following years helped Marc through the darkness. Marc also shares the entirety of Dan’s episode from March 2014.
Nicole Holofcener has trouble breathing. She finds herself holding her breath for too long, which could be a result of allergies or a byproduct of sleep apnea. But it’s also an apt metaphor for the life of an independent filmmaker. Nicole and Marc talk about what it takes to make films with small budgets, casting conundrums, and deeply personal subject matter. They discuss the films she wrote and directed like Walking and Talking, Lovely and Amazing, and Enough Said, as well as her contributions to The Last Duel and her reasons for continuing to work on episodic television shows.
Tony Hawk walked into Marc’s garage on a broken leg, the result of a recent skateboarding trick gone wrong. It’s everything about Tony that’s on display in the new documentary Tony Hawk: Until The Wheels Fall Off, distilled down to one cracked femur. Tony and Marc talk about why it’s so hard to stop doing what you love, the fear of being seen as washed up, and the feeling of being a kid and finding something that you know you want to do for the rest of your life.
It’s normal for everyone to call Troy Andrews by his stage name, Trombone Shorty, because he’s been playing the trombone since he was a tiny, four-year-old boy. Troy and Marc talk about the musical culture of New Orleans, growing up in the Treme, touring with Lenny Kravitz right out of high school, becoming the frontman of his own band, making the trombone a featured instrument, creating a musical education academy, and recording his new album, Lifted, which is inspired by his mother.
Vanessa Bayer knows her comedic talent comes from a decidedly unfunny place. Vanessa’s teenage cancer diagnosis focused her comedy skills, which in turn allowed her to help people process, understand and laugh at horrible things. Vanessa and Marc talk about how her natural optimism guided her through this health crisis and also put her in a great headspace for the Saturday Night Live audition process. Vanessa also explains why she incorporated her real life medical history into her new comedy series, I Love That For You.
Robert Eggers was never into Vikings or hand-to-hand combat or macho stuff. And yet he just made the Viking movie to end all Viking movies, filled with brutal violence and macho posturing. But as he tells Marc, making The Northman was all in the service of his quest to transmit the sublime. Robert and Marc talk the meticulous attention to detail he brings to his films, how he’s fascinated by the search for belief amidst ritual and fantasy, and how he grew up loving comic books but would now rather make movies like The Witch and The Lighthouse than a superhero story.
The guiding philosophy in the life of Harvey Fierstein is simple: Say yes. As he put together his new memoir, I Was Better Last Night, it was clear to Harvey his extraordinary life relied on saying yes to opportunities, yes to activism, and yes to his own self worth. Harvey and Marc talk about the challenges of dealing with the past in memoir writing, the importance of telling the stories of gay culture in the ’60s and ’70s, and the evolving understanding of gender and identity.
From 2013, Gilbert Gottfried talks to Marc about his comedy peers, his one-year stint on SNL, the times his jokes got him in trouble, and more. Gilbert died on April 12, 2022, at age 67.
Bonnie Raitt doesn’t feel the need to slow down. With the release of her 18th studio album and the start of an eight-month world tour, the prolific singer-songwriter knows what it’s like to make the most of your opportunities. Bonnie talks with Marc about growing up in a musical home, falling into the Laurel Canyon music scene, struggling with substance abuse, getting sober in her late-30s and having her first hit album in her 40s. They also talk about Bonnie’s continuing work with James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Mavis Staples and Lucinda Williams.
Zazie Beetz and Marc were in three things together - Joker, the Netflix series Easy, and the new animated film The Bad Guys - but they’re only now meeting each other for real. That makes for a good opportunity to interrogate their respective anxiety issues and compare their coping strategies. Zazie and Marc also talk about her German heritage, why she’s not an LA person, and how she sees her work on Atlanta as being part of an overall reflection of Donald Glover’s real life story.
Comedian Adam Ray was a high school athlete, a musical theater performer, and an acting student with his eyes on Hollywood. But one thing he never could shake was the feeling of being an overweight kid when he was younger. Adam and Marc talk about how doing comedy helps keep feelings of insecurity at bay and why the two of them struggled to get over their fears of being on stage. Adam also talks about playing Jay Leno on Pam and Tommy, Vince McMahon on Young Rock, and Wolverine at the Universal Studios theme park.
Comedian Guy Torry spent 13 years creating and running the most famous all-black comedy night in America at The Comedy Store. And now Guy just spent another 13 years making a documentary about that influential weekly comedy show, Phat Tuesdays. Guy and Marc talk about the limited opportunities for Black comedians in mainstream clubs and how the racially divided climate of 1990s Los Angeles highlighted the need to fill a comedy void. Guy explains the importance of comedian Robin Harris in mentoring young comedians and how comics like Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac and others thrived in the new environment.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been around for almost 40 years and Flea has been there for every minute of it. He and Marc talk about Flea’s jazz-based upbringing that made him the bassist he is today, the various incarnations of the band, and the current reunion with multi-time bandmate John Frusciante for their new album, Unlimited Love. Flea also talks about the heartbreak of losing the Chili Pepper’s founding guitarist Hillel Slovak to drug addiction and the demons the rest of the band have fought to overcome.
Sam Jay has a lot of irons in the fire. She’s on the comedy series Bust Down, she has her own HBO late night show Pause, and she never stops doing standup. Sam tells Marc that standup is the one thing that’s guided her through it all, whether it was getting through tough personal times when she was younger or when she was hired as a writer on SNL with no formal writing experience. It’s always been standup that served as her North Star, which she now uses as a way to communicate across generational and racial divides.
Jeff Foxworthy still cringes when he knows other comics are watching his work. That persistent insecurity and the desire to always stay funny is why Jeff has a new Netflix special and a whole new act. Jeff talks with Marc about the drive that made him quit his job at IBM to try and get on Johnny Carson. They also talk about how he formed the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and how he feels about being known for his “You Might Be A Redneck” hook even though it hasn’t been part of his act for 20 years.
Ariana DeBose knows there was no way for her to prepare for what’s happening right now. There’s no instruction booklet for being a professional dancer at age 18 and suddenly becoming an Academy Award-nominated actress. Ariana and Marc talk about how getting voted off So You Think You Can Dance changed her life and how she checked herself by watching The Devil Wears Prada. Ariana also goes into the details of making West Side Story, including her collaborations with Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner and Rita Moreno.
It’s been almost seven years since Marc smoked a cigarette with Keith Richards in a radio studio in New York City. Since then, Keith gave up smoking, continued to tour with the Rolling Stones, released multiple new albums including a blues record, and is now re-issuing his solo album Main Offender. Marc and Keith catch up on all of that and also talk about the passing of Keith’s friend and bandmate Charlie Watts. Also, Marc revisits his full conversation with Keith from 2015.
Mike O’Brien has the distinction of being responsible for Marc Maron crossing over into the world of improv. With a background in the Chicago improv and sketch scene and seven seasons writing for Saturday Night Live, Lynn Shelton approached Mike to help create a movie that would be entirely improvised by the cast. That movie was Sword of Trust starring Marc Maron. Mike and Marc talk about the making of the film, Mike’s comedy background, and the fan movement that gave Mike’s TV show, A.P. Bio, a new life.
Not many people know Marc the way Caroline Rhea does. They have a history that runs through the many different stages of each of their lives and careers. Caroline and Marc sit down for a conversation about confronting the past, learning from failure, and reckoning with the fact that their work now resonates with multiple generations of fans. They’re also able to compare notes on their experiences in comedy, such as which clubs are actually the good ones and what missed opportunities were better left unaccomplished.
Mira Sorvino has a lot of talents beyond acting. She speaks Mandarin Chinese, she dances ballet, she plays guitar. But acting is what Mira believes she was born to do. And then for almost 20 years, she was prevented from doing it on her own terms because of a powerful man and a complicit industry. Mira and Marc talk about how she went from winning an Oscar to being put on a Hollywood blacklist by Harvey Weinstein and how she didn’t learn the truth until 17 years later. They also talk about her career renaissance, including her scene-stealing turn on the new series Shining Vale.
Sam Elliott plays a lot of tough guys - cowboys, bikers, soldiers - who can (and often do) beat people up. But in reality, Sam says the only guy he beats up is himself. Sam and Marc talk about how he came to terms with some of the things in his life that were really doing a number on him, like how his father never approved of his life as an actor. They also talk about some of his most popular roles, like The Stranger in The Big Lebowski, Bobby in A Star Is Born, and his new addition to the Yellowstone franchise, Shea on 1883.
From 2013, Sally Kellerman talks with Marc about being his TV mom, embracing Hot Lips, and working with Robert Altman, Marlon Brando, Rodney Dangerfield and more. Sally died on February 24, 2022 at age 84.
W. Kamau Bell has talked with Marc before about his life, his comedy and his thoughts about the world. But this time there’s a single topic that needs to be addressed: Bill Cosby. Kamau tells Marc why he decided to make the documentary series We Need To Talk About Cosby, the obstacles he encountered in getting it made, the comedians who wouldn’t talk to him, and the backlash he’s received for making the doc. Kamau also explains what happened when Cosby was released from prison while they were still shooting.
From 2014, Marc talks with John Szeles, better known as The Amazing Johnathan, about his life doing comedy and magic, often at the same time. John died on February 22, 2022 at age 63
From 2017, Marc talks with Mark Lanegan, the former frontman of Screaming Trees, about the '90s grunge scene and his collaborations with various artists. Mark died on February 22, 2022 at age 57.
Andy Garcia says it’s surreal to look back on his early life as a shy Cuban exile who was idolizing famous actors and filmmakers, only to be reminiscing now about the work he’s done with Sean Connery, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and so many others. Andy and Marc talk about his years in LA with no acting work, his improv group at The Comedy Store, and how he was supposed to play the henchman in The Untouchables. They also talk about Andy being part of The Godfather films, with the original being the movie that made Andy want to become an actor in the first place.
Roy Wood Jr can’t be angry on stage. He wants to be angry. But he believes his face is too round to be angry. Now, whenever Roy wants to say something mean in his act, he knows he has to smile while he does it. Roy tells Marc how he learned to navigate the way audiences perceive him while doing the Southern standup circuit and honing his skills on The Daily Show. He also explains how doing the show Finding Your Roots upended what he thought was the truth of his life story and prompted him to undertake a personal journey.
Ana Gasteyer learned a major life lesson from Will Ferrell and it has nothing to do with their time together on Saturday Night Live. It was about making choices, square dancing and knowing how to have fun. Ana and Marc talk about how much fun she’s had in her life and career, including her time in the Groundlings, her work on Broadway and her roles in ensemble comedies like her new series American Auto. She also talks about the circle of friends she still keeps from her time on SNL and the bond she has with cast members whenever she meets them.
From 2014, Marc talks with filmmaker Ivan Reitman about his career, his movies and his relationship with his writer-director son, Jason. Ivan died on February 12, 2022 at age 75.
Chris Spencer is the kind of guy the White House calls when they need a show business favor. How did he become so connected? In Chris’s words, Black Hollywood is a small place. Chris talks with Marc about how his early comedy career paved the way for a big break as a late night talk show host. But when that opportunity fizzled from the start, Chris had to figure out how to redirect his talents. That new approach led to a lot of comedy writing and directing his first feature film with Kevin Hart, Wesley Snipes and Tiffany Haddish.
Judd Hirsch is interested in the pursuit of truth. That’s why he loved math as a student, that’s why he got a physics degree, and that’s why he has a civil engineering background. But he also learned to apply the pursuit of truth to his acting. Judd tells Marc why he always insists on conveying the truth about his characters, down to changing the characters’ names if they don’t feel right. They talk about his roles in Taxi, Ordinary People, Uncut Gems and as Marc’s dad on the show Maron, and how he uncovered the truth in all of those instances.
Sam Richardson thinks desperation is the key to comedy. His characters from shows like Detroiters and I Think You Should Leave are a testament to that philosophy. Sam and Marc talk about his childhood being split between the United States and Ghana, his days performing on cruise ships for Second City, and his friendship with Tim Robinson, which began with Tim as Sam’s improv teacher. Sam also explains how his role as Richard Splett on Veep went from a one-episode guest shot to a series regular who winds up becoming the President.
Tony Kushner is one of the most important American playwrights of the past 50 years who is now a creative partner of one of the most important American filmmakers of the last 50 years. Tony talks with Marc about working with Steven Spielberg on Munich, Lincoln and the new adaptation of West Side Story. They also discuss the history of Jews in the Louisiana lumber industry, the pivotal moment of Angels in America that came to him in a dream, and the play he saw when he was six that made him want to be a part of the theater community.
Film critic Dana Stevens took her love for Silent Movie Era star Buster Keaton and told the story of the 20th century film industry as it evolved alongside Buster’s own life. Marc talks with Dana about her new book, Camera Man, which is not just a biography of Keaton. It’s a look at the politics of film, the beginning of the studio system, the start of film criticism, the rise and fall of early movie stars, and how America dealt with the seismic change that was ushered in by this new art form.
Peter Dinklage spent a good portion of his life trying to come to terms with ambition. It's something he's had an adversarial relationship with, going back to the days when he started a theater company that mounted no productions. But Peter tells Marc how he got more comfortable with having an acting career and how he learned to embrace mainstream success, whether it was from his star turn in The Station Agent or his work on Game of Thones or his latest film, the new adaptation of Cyrano.
Hear Marc's two conversations with comedian and actor Louie Anderson from June 2016 and April 2018. Louie died on January 21, 2022 at age 68.
John Mellencamp considers his whole career to be a total fluke. Maybe that’s because he never planned for anything in his life and just let the chips fall where they may. As he releases his twenty-fifth studio album, Strictly A One-Eyed Jack, John tells Marc what he learned opening for The Kinks, why he had to take the name Johnny Cougar, why he still hasn’t written something that makes him proud, and why David Letterman’s mom attributed Dave’s career to John.
Nicole Byer hosts the hit shows Nailed It! and Wipeout, is working on her new standup hour, hosts four different podcasts and is starring in the new primetime NBC series Grand Crew. But she still had time to join Marc in the garage so they can try to figure out why they both have such a hard time with physical affection. They also talk about Nicole’s days as an endearingly bad waitress, how she coped with losing both of her parents at a young age, and what few things she actually knows how to bake.
Drew Michael wants his comedy to feel different. He wants the audience to have a unique experience. This mindset actually reminds Marc of his own style of comedy, as well as a few other iconoclastic stand-ups who used their time on stage to get laughs but also get to the bottom of life’s problems. Drew and Marc talk about the combustible nature of experimental comedy, specifically Drew’s new special Red Blue Green. They also talk about how Drew’s childhood hearing loss shaped his life and made comedy a viable way for him to be understood.
Javier Bardem finds lots of inspiration in his native Spain: the art, the creativity, the history, the ham. Marc talks with Javier about the importance of being raised in a creative family, including his uncle who fought the fascists through his films and his mother who was his greatest teacher. They also talk about some of Javier’s most memorable performances in films like No Country for Old Men, Before Night Falls and his recent portrayal of Desi Arnaz in Being the Ricardos.
Marc pays tribute to comedian Bob Saget and revisits his three WTF appearances from September 2010, April 2014 and November 2017. Bob died on January 9, 2022 at age 65.
From 2015, Marc talks with director Peter Bogdanovich about his life as a filmmaker, his days in the theater and his friendship with Orson Welles. Peter died on January 6, 2022 at age 82.
Most people who know David Manheim don’t know him as David Manheim. To fans of the Dopey podcast, he’s just Dave (no last name given), a recovering drug addict who built a tight-knit digital community around addiction, recovery and being human. David talks with Marc about how his career in show business fizzled out as addiction took hold of his life and how starting a podcast with a friend he met in recovery was his salvation. They also talk about Dave’s other life at Katz’s Deli and they get into the important hierarchy of deli meats.
Recently, Marc talked with television historian David Bianculli about The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and the important place it holds in American culture. Talking with Tom and Dick Smothers themselves, Marc finds that the brothers are as surprised as anyone that they left such an indelible mark. Starting with an act that grew out of the folk music scene, Tom and Dick talk about the evolution of their variety show, how they wound up locking horns with the network that ultimately fired them, and why they’re getting back on stage after 12 years of retirement.
When Rory Cochrane started acting, he knew he didn’t want to be a movie star. He wanted to be a freight train that keeps on moving. Rory tells Marc about the practices and measures he put in place to attain his goal of career longevity and artistic satisfaction. They also talk about why it’s important for him to work on productions where the crew is treated well, why he asked to leave CSI: Miami when it was still the biggest show on TV, and what led to some of his pivotal career moments in movies like Dazed and Confused, Black Mass, and Argo.
Aida Rodriguez wanted her first HBO special to be more than a comedy show. She wanted to depict the parts of her past that are foundational to her comedy. So that’s why she filmed a short documentary about her visits to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, as she reunited with the father she hadn't seen in 40 years. Marc and Aida talk about how she got comedy material out of a life story that included being kidnapped twice, finding herself raising her children without a home, and breaking into the business later in life.
Guillermo del Toro believes in one universal truth: We all get to a moment in our lives when we see ourselves for who we really are. That belief not only guides his own life, it guides the characters through his many films. Guillermo and Marc talk about how he takes on the dark forces of the world in his movies, including his latest, Nightmare Alley. They also discuss his friendship with fellow Oscar-winning directors Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón, his expansive collection of oddities, and his strong identification with outsider characters and monsters.
Despite multiple Oscars and billions of dollars in box office returns, Peter Jackson still has the same interests he had when he was 10 years old: First World War airplanes, monster movies, using his Super 8 camera, and The Beatles. Peter tells Marc what it was like to be entrusted with more than 60 hours of Beatles footage to make the new documentary Get Back, why he was filled with dread when he started the project, and why he was surprised by what he found when he went through the footage.
At one point, Chan Marshall was in a band called Cat Power. But it’s appropriate for someone like Chan, who had to be self-reliant almost from birth, that she’d adopt the name as her own once the band dissolved. Chan and Marc talk about her rebirth as Cat Power, the Atlanta music scene in the early ‘90s, carrying trauma throughout her life, and finding out that making music grounded her in something real for the first time. They also focus on her eclectic collections of cover songs as she prepares to release another album of them.
Halle Berry wasn’t supposed to be in the movie Bruised. And she definitely wasn’t supposed to direct the movie Bruised. Then she wound up being in it and directing it, but no one wanted to take a chance on it. Now it’s such a hit for Netflix that they’ve signed her to a multi-picture deal. Halle tells Marc what it took to get to this place in her life and career, transcending her childhood of abuse to create a portfolio of performances where she breathes life into broken people.
Still only in his early 30s, Jesse Plemons has already delivered a laundry list of indelible performances in everything from Breaking Bad to Friday Night Lights to Black Mass, working with directors like Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese and now Jane Campion in The Power of the Dog. Jesse tells Marc how a humble kid from Central Texas cultivated an acting career that would be the envy of any performer. They also talk about what it’s like for Jesse to act opposite his wife, Kirsten Dunst.
Jennifer Hudson didn’t start singing with her eyes open until she was 19 years old. That’s not a metaphor. Jennifer tells Marc how she was so afraid to sing in public, the only way she could do it was by closing her eyes. They talk about what it was like to finally feel brave enough to open them and the doors that also opened up when she did. Jennifer explains the centrality of church in her life, how faith helped guide her through unspeakable tragedy, and why she got Aretha Franklin’s blessing to portray her in the movie Respect.
Benedict Cumberbatch is a busy man. When he’s not holding the Marvel Universe together as Doctor Strange or making prestige dramas with celebrated directors, he’s flying between the U.S. and the U.K. to raise a family. Benedict and Marc talk about his latest projects, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain and Jane Campion’s The Power of The Dog, as well as his early life as the child of two working actors. Plus a lot of talk about cats.
Bill Pullman’s upbringing in rural Western New York prepared him for a multifaceted life, since he always had to keep his options open. So aside from being an actor, Bill’s also been a theater teacher, a rancher, a fruit grower, even a traveling Shakespeare performer in Montana. Bill and Marc talk about how he incorporated dream analysis into his performances in both David Lynch’s Lost Highway and his current show The Sinner, why Spaceballs was actually a great crash course in movie acting, and what’s the root cause of the timeless Pullman-Paxton confusion.
WTF takes over the historic Paris Theater in New York City for the first live audience episode of the show in more than six years. Marc is joined by film critic and historian Jason Bailey, author of the new book Fun City Cinema. They get into what the movies tell us about New York and what New York tells us about ourselves. Marc and Jason go over this history of movie making in NYC, including a deep dive into The Taking of Pelham 123 from Jason’s Fun City Cinema podcast.
Ridley Scott has a secret weapon as a filmmaker and it probably has a lot to do with his career longevity and versatility. As a young boy, he would draw everything, and to this day he still storyboards every one of his films with his own drawings. That helps him deliver the finished product efficiently, often under schedule and under budget. Marc talks with Ridley about how he worked his craft on films like Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, American Gangster, and his two most recent films, The Last Duel and House of Gucci.
Kenneth Branagh had a lot on his mind when making the movie Belfast, a film based on his own childhood. He thought mostly about loss. Loss of family, loss of where you come from, loss of innocence. As Kenneth tells Marc, he’s been thinking about loss a lot lately and figuring out how to strike a balance between heartbreaking and heartwarming. Marc and Kenneth also talk about the importance of visiting the graves of people you admire, what discovering Shakespeare did for Kenneth at a young age, why he might be ready to play King Lear, and why he worries about something actors call The Bleed.
George Clooney is 60. Which means, much like Marc, he’s always reminding himself that he doesn’t know how much time he has left. George tells Marc how this mindset affects all his decisions, whether it’s the projects he takes on, the causes he fights for, or the time he frees up to spend with his children. They also discuss George’s directorial work, including his latest film The Tender Bar, his introduction to show business by his father and his Aunt Rosemary, and his thoughts on avoiding further tragic accidents involving guns on movie sets.
Marc is trying to get to the bottom of something. What does it really mean to be 'canceled' in comedy? Is it something comedians have always worried about? What does actual censorship in comedy look like? And who or what is traditionally responsible for censoring the comedy world? Marc talks to comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff and Smothers Brothers biographer David Bianculli about the history of comedians complaining they “can’t say anything anymore” and what it looks like when they actually do get canceled for speaking their minds.
The challenges of standup comedy were nothing compared to the obstacles Felipe Esparza faced throughout his childhood. His family was caught crossing the border and sent back to Mexico. When he finally made it to America, he found himself living with an abusive father in a Los Angeles neighborhood being decimated by crack and PCP. And as Felipe tells Marc, even when he was getting good standup gigs, he couldn’t escape his past. They also talk about Felipe’s vegan journey, the big comedy lesson he learned from the library, and the difference between doing his act in English and in Spanish.
How did Bob Spitz become the preeminent biographer of the most important and influential names in rock and roll? Before he wrote the definitive narratives of Bob Dylan, The Beatles and now Led Zeppelin, Bob was a business manager who was there for the discovery of Bruce Springsteen and flew around the globe with Elton John. Bob tells Marc how he merged his experience in the business with an investigative approach to these music biographies and then extended it to other subjects like Woodstock, European cooking, Julia Child and Ronald Reagan.
Being from Queens is as much a part of Ricky Velez’s personality as his humor, his dyslexia and his depression. Ricky tells Marc how he put it all together when he started doing standup in New York City as a teenager, which eventually led to collaborating with Judd Apatow, who produced Ricky’s new HBO special. They also talk about Ricky’s friendship with Pete Davidson, his failed attempt to join the Coast Guard, and how a TV segment with Bill Nye led to an internet nightmare.
Jennifer Lee Pryor was there for Richard Pryor’s highest highs and his lowest lows. She experienced so much with Richard that she married him twice. Jennifer and Marc talk about the brilliant, complicated, visionary, frustrating man that was Richard Pryor and how Jennifer became the guardian of his legacy, culminating with a new career-spanning box set. They also talk about Jennifer’s time as a ‘70s wild child, making her way through show biz on both coasts.
Hasan Minhaj took the pressures put on him to become a lawyer and channeled them into the ambition necessary to start a standup career, become a Daily Show correspondent, host his own show (Patriot Act), get cast on a prestige drama (The Morning Show), and have a future in comedy as bright as anyone in his peer group. Marc and Hasan break down the roots of that ambition, how it differs between different generations of comedians, and whether or not there’s a correlation between comedy and entrepreneurship.
David Chang wouldn’t have opened his first restaurant if he wasn’t depressed. Now, with his Momofuku empire that brings joy to foodies everywhere, David still finds himself struggling to find joy. Marc talks with David about their shared demons and what steps they each take to overcome them, in particular creating boundaries, being less angry, and working to correct past mistakes. They also talk about David’s new show The Next Thing You Eat, his friendship with Anthony Bourdain, and his life as a new dad.
Jane Goodall has hope. Yes, even in these times. That doesn’t mean the good doctor looks at the world with rose-colored glasses. It means she knows hope is a necessary part of our survival as a species. Marc talks with Dr. Goodall about The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times and finds out what inspires her these days. They also talk about her famous primate research that changed the way we humans understand ourselves, her work to spread environmental equity, and her thoughts on Bigfoot.
As Connor Roy on Succession, Alan Ruck finally has the kind of role he’s been waiting to get for more than 30 years. And as Alan tells Marc, some of those years weren’t very fun. There was the time after playing Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when he could only get work in a Sears warehouse. Or the time before making Speed when he left acting and started tending bar. And then the time when he got sick while shooting Spin City and almost died. At least there were some Star Trek conventions sprinkled in the mix.
Taraji P. Henson says all her f***s are behind her now. But after three decades in show business, Taraji admits she only feels freedom from her f***s because of her openness around mental health. Taraji and Marc talk about the importance of coping with mental illness, as well as Taraji’s work to encourage mental health awareness in the Black community. They also talk about her landmark performances, from Baby Boy to Empire to Hidden Figures, and how she dealt with getting pushed out of roles after being told that “Black doesn’t sell.”
Kelefa Sanneh has been writing about music for his entire career. Drawing on his experience as the music critic at The New York Times, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and a lifelong music obsessive, Kelefa took a detailed look at how music unites and divides us with his new opus, Major Labels: A History of Popular Music in Seven Genres. Marc and Kelefa talk about their own personal musical journeys, how genres are comparable to communities, and how identities can be established and shaped by the music we love.
American audiences fell in love with Julie Delpy as the romantic French traveler Celine in Before Sunrise and its two sequels. But Julie didn’t have an equal love affair with the making of Hollywood films. She tells Marc that she was always happier as a writer and director, and her ongoing fight against institutional biases and sexism left her more than a little frustrated. With her new comedy series on Netflix, On The Verge, Julie is creating an unfortunately rare depiction of women in their 40s and 50s.
Rosebud Baker knows all about the fine line between sadness and funny. She’s learned how to get laughs out of the tragedy that befell her family, her alcohol addiction, her co-dependent and abusive relationships, and her grandfather, who happened to be one of the most powerful people in the world. Marc and Rosebud also talk about how she found stability in her life and how she’s going about rebuilding her standup act after turning out her first special.
Even when he was a kid, B.J. Novak wanted to achieve greatness. His hard work and ambition brought him to Harvard, to the Lampoon, to doing standup, to getting on The Office, to writing a massively successful children’s book, to directing movies and creating the new anthology series The Premise. But one thing remained elusive: B.J. couldn’t really understand why Marc Maron seemed to dislike him so much. It’s a mystery Marc himself wasn’t sure he could solve. Until now, in the garage, face to face.
From October 2011, Marc's revelatory conversation with Norm Macdonald about life, comedy, gambling, death and Rodney. Norm died on September 14, 2021 at age 61.
Marc revisits his conversation from earlier this year with actor Michael K. Williams. Michael died at age 54 on September 6, 2021.
Matt Damon's continuing presence and popularity in American films can be summed up in four words: He loves to act. Matt tells Marc how he made the most out of working with icons like Clint Eastwood, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington and many more. He also talks about teaming back up with Ben Affleck for their first screenplay since Good Will Hunting and making his latest film, Stillwater, with Tom McCarthy.
The pandemic forced a lot of changes on all of us, but for Quentin Tarantino, he was already undergoing a huge change right as the pandemic started: He became a first-time father. Now with the release of his first novel, the famed director talks with Marc about the shifting perspectives and priorities that come with getting older. They also talk about the death of Old Hollywood, the Manson family, and why he wouldn’t use the name Tarantino if he had to start all over again. Plus, Tom Scharpling finally gives Marc what he wants in Get to Know Tom.
Whether he was getting booked on The Tonight Show or becoming the first standup to have a hit sitcom based on his act or finding success as a professional poker player, Gabe Kaplan says it all happened in spite of his lack of ambition. Gabe tells Marc how he really wanted to become a professional baseball player, how his athleticism served him well in Battle of the Network Stars, and how his initial years in standup were spent opening for strippers and bellydancers. They also talk about the making of Welcome Back, Kotter and how playing Las Vegas got Gabe into poker.
In order for Eddie Murphy to become “Eddie Murphy” he had to become a comedian. Eddie tells Marc, comic-to-comic, what it was like being a Black teenager on Long Island building a standup act fueled by impressions and inspired by Richard Pryor. And now, with fatherhood at the center of his life, Eddie explains why he wants to bookend his career by going back on stage. Eddie also talks about the real reason he exploded on the movie scene, why he stopped doing standup before he turned 30, and why it was finally the right time to make Coming 2 America.
Marc pays tribute to his creative collaborator and romantic partner Lynn Shelton, who passed away at age 54 on May 16, 2020. This episode includes her August 2015 interview on WTF.
During a victory lap for their movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio put movie stardom on hold for an hour to have a chat with Marc. They talk about their early days as show business outsiders, the moment they knew their lives would never be the same, the times they've known a movie they're in is going to tank, why they don't want to direct and why they love to produce. This episode is sponsored by SimpliSafe and Everything's Gonna Be Okay on Freeform.
From the minute the Presidential motorcade pulled away, Marc began recording his reaction to the momentous event that just occurred in his garage. Hear Marc's ongoing reflections in the aftermath as well as a discussion with WTF producer Brendan McDonald about how this happened in the first place. This episode is sponsored by Stamps.com, Squarespace, Comedy Central, and Vegas.com.
Marc welcomes the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, to the garage for conversation about college, fitting in, race relations, gun violence, changing the status quo, disappointing your fans, comedians, fatherhood and overcoming fear. And yes, this really happened. This episode is presented without commercial interruption courtesy of Squarespace. Go to MarcMeetsObama.com to see behind-the-scenes photos and captions.
Marc travels into the California desert to meet Paul Krassner, who represents about a half century of counter-culture comedy. Paul talks about his writing in The Realist magazine and his work with Lenny Bruce, giving context to the tumult (and humor) of the 1960s. And, as an added bonus, Paul recounts the time he acid-tripped with Groucho Marx.