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Marc Maron has some thoughts about newbie Conan O'Brien being named a podcasting pioneer

Marc Maron, Conan O’Brien
Screenshot: Conan

Look, Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend is a really good podcast, okay? All 30-plus episodes of the late-night legend’s first foray into the “no makeup, no hair” world of online celebrity chit-chat are genuinely funny, thoughtful, and filed with the sort of loose, faux-fraught banter (among Conan, assistant Sona Movsesian, and producer Matt Gourley) that makes for solid podcasting fun. Of course, as the most recent, and widely eye-rolled-at Variety cover might have noted, Conan dipping his pale Irish digits into the already overflowing podcasting pool might not make as big a splash as all that, what with podcasting networks like Maximum Fun, Earwolf (home to Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend), iHeartRadio, and lots more having provided us with a bewilderingly diverse array of influential podcasts on an even more mind-expanding variety of topics for years. Hell, Gourley himself has a roster of excellent podcasts in his quiver that puts his boss’ shiny new venture to shame. (The hardworking earbud-jockeys at The A.V. Club’s venerable weekly feature Podmass can point you in some thought-provoking/hilarious directions.)

Conan himself didn’t write that Variety piece, of course, but that didn’t stop Tuesday’s Conan guest and actual podcasting pioneer Marc Maron from emerging with said magazine rolled up ominously in his palm. “So I, uh, think I gotta talk to you about something,” began the GLOW star, unrolling the magazine to first congratulate his longtime pal on his newfound podcasting acclaim, and then go all Marc Maron on Conan’s ass for his (third-party) hubris. Noting that his justly lauded podcast WTF With Marc Maron has done over 1,000 episodes since it was born out of the standup and occasional actor’s garage back in 2009, Maron asked Conan how many episodes of his “revolutionary” Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend have aired since it began way back in, um, November of 2018. “Oooh, 30-something,” goggled Maron mockingly, telling Conan, “I don’t buy it, O’Brien!”

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The two sparred entertainingly—as has been their way since Maron started appearing on Conan’s various late-night shows some 26 years ago—with O’Brien jousting, “This is your problem, you went for quantity,” before making fun of Maron for getting all territorial about his chosen medium. Maron pretended to concede the point before coming back with the fact that—unlike, say, a TV staple deigning to make a li’l podcast after an entire life of entertainment successes—Maron was one of those who found a new outlet in podcasting for a voice that otherwise were getting stifled. “There were some of us, Conan, that were in the mines!,” exploded Maron in his signature irascible high dudgeon. (He didn’t bring up that Conan has been on WTF already.) After taking a few off-topic swipes at each others’ wardrobes (Johnny Cash vs. “hip biology teacher”), the two longtime friends and now oh so bitterest of rivals only made up when Andy Richter (who, yes, just started his own new podcast) complained, “I just hate it when mom and dad fight.” Maybe they can really hash things out on one of their podcasts.

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.