Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Marc Maron marks 25 years on Conan O'Brien's shows by being Marc, but with a guitar

Marc Maron, Conan O’Brien
Screenshot: Conan

On Monday’s Conan, host Conan O’Brien noted that his late-night, on-camera relationship with first guest Marc Maron goes back a full quarter-century. Well, nearly, as Conan joked, “You know, the first year we weren’t sure about you.” Maron replied, “And then you realized I could alienate people over and over again,” which, indeed, the enduringly cantankerous comic demonstrated once again in his comfortably cranky sit-down with old pal O’Brien.

Now a respected character actor—in addition to GLOW, he’s apparently going to be in the new Joker movie, of all things—Maron, dressed for garage-based podcasting in rumpled plaid shirt and blue jeans, groused about being “mid-level famous.” Which, as he related, means having to stand around fuming while the one guy who recognizes him on the street tries to explain to his two buddies who Maron is. Sure, the veteran standup and podcasting pioneer has interviewed President Barack Obama and Sir Paul McCartney in his day (“I hear The Beatles are off-limits,” he apparently joked to McCartney pre-taping), but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still get starstruck by actual, top-shelf Oscar legends like Meryl Streep, even if he just spots her eating cheese in a Connecticut restaurant. “I gotta be honest with you ... just brilliant,” assessed Maron in deadpan admiration of Streep’s cheese-and-bread technique.


For Maron, Conan’s couch is the curmudgeon’s comfort zone, as the comic joked about his aged parents’ foibles—like how his Florida-based mom’s iguana-feeding habit may foretell the end times. (“A 70-something-year-old Jewish woman feeding dinosaurs in her backyard” does have the decided ring of prophecy to it.)

Speaking thereof, Maron also turned his attention to the fact that Donald Trump (least likely WTF guest outside of Gallagher again) is stampeding so outside the bounds of human behavior at this point that it reveals out how many of America’s expectations of presidential conduct were based merely on shaky assumptions. “Just in case we make it through this one, a few dos and don’ts might be nice,” he joked wryly.


In the end, though, Maron’s spot ended with some unwonted enthusiasm, as he asked permission to play with Conan’s Jimmy Vivino And The Basic Cable Band. Shuffling gleefully toward the bandstand while fumbling in his shirt pocket for a pick, Maron grabbed an electric guitar and played the show out to commercial, exhibiting some showily impressive garage-honed licks with the hard-won delight of someone whose decades of professional fucks-not-giving had finally paid off.


(Read in Marc Maron voice: Since Conan only puts up interviews in tiny chunks for some reason, you can see the whole Maron interview—in tiny chunks—here.)


Share This Story

About the author

Dennis Perkins

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