MARC MARON was one of the regular guest stars on the sorely missed "Dr. Katz" series from Comedy Central, and his recent stand-up performances seem to represent one of those career trajectory pivots that makes perfect sense.
More so than most comedians walking a fine line of self-realization through self-deprecation, Maron has been treating his gigs as therapy, with lacerating romance requiems and fourth-wall destroyers that seem to have a lot in common with your run-of-the-mill emo bands hell-bent on sharing their catharsis.
Fortunately, Maron doesn't see it that way.
"It's not that therapeutic. I'm still not entirely well," he says. "Entertaining is subjective. I have always been entertaining to some people. The more 'therapeutic' sets have been the most entertaining to people who were/are wrestling with the same monsters as I am. These are common monsters that need to be taken out for a walk. Those who want to walk their monsters dig these sets and need the entertaining deeply."
It's indicative of the kind of volatility that's marked Maron's comedy since a very public and harsh breakup with wife Mishna Wolff that he's more than willing to address in a live setting. (In fact, at a late show in August at the Steve Allen Theater, you weren't sure whether he was going to make it.)
But throughout his career, instability has been a double-edged sword for Maron, his acidic point of view being a draw for audiences as well as a source of conflict -- Maron's run on Air America Radio was marked with disputes over everything from the contracts to the content, and he wasn't afraid to address any of it.
A willingness to take on the dingier portions of process is a hallmark of Maron's oeuvre, particularly in regard to government. It's hard not to think that political aspect of comedy has taken a tone of malaise and even boredom; at this point, even in the midst of an election cycle.
One would think that someone with his predilections for muckraking would be anticipating what the new regime might bring in terms of laughs, but even he's wary.
"I don't find any of them particularly funny. We have no idea what any of them can or will do," the 44-year-old Highland Park resident says. "Whoever gets the job will be holding the biggest bag of flaming [dung] in the history of the country.
"I like Obama. I'm excited about . . . the way he looks just over the audience into the distance at something good and right for all just out on the horizon. I think this is a historic opportunity for black people to be misrepresented by one of their own. We've been misrepresented by ours since the beginning. I say pass the baton, brother."
THE STAND UPPITY TOUR
WHO: Edgy routines from Andy Kindler, Marc Maron and Eugene Mirman
WHERE: Echoplex, 1152 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park
WHEN: 8 tonight
INFO: (213) 413-8200; www.attheecho.com