Comedian Marc Maron sat down with one of the world’s most powerful men today, interviewing President Barack Obama on his podcast, WTF With Marc Maron. And, thanks to the transitive property of interviews, the fact that he did so was interesting enough to warrant its own interview, with The New York Times’ ArtsBeat blog. In the conversation, Maron discuses the pressures—and, no surprise, anxieties—of preparing for a frank, casual conversation with the president of the United States.
“Well, I freaked out like I always do. And I became very self-conscious about my knowledge and nuanced sense of what’s happening in the world, politically. I had to put that aside and figure out what I wanted to talk to him about, personally. I think it would be disrespectful if I didn’t engage him about his accomplishments and his policy. So I did a little homework and I got up to speed.”
According to Maron, the potential for the interview had been in the works for a while now, with White House fans of the show helping provide the initial push. He also detailed the security measures necessary to bring Obama into the Highland Park, CA, garage where Maron records the show, adding that the idea to record there came from the Obama camp.
In terms of discussion topics, Maron said that the Oval Office gave him no restrictions or guidelines, and that he and his producer retain the final edit on the program (which goes live on Monday). Unavoidably, their conversation touched on—alongside several other aspects of Obama’s tenure—Wednesday’s events in Charleston, South Carolina, when nine people were murdered by a gunman in an act of racially motivated violence.
“We talked about racism. We talked about gun violence. We talked about the Affordable Care Act. His disappointments. The obstacles of his presidency. His family, a little bit. How he goes on, day to day, with the same determination and optimism that he’s had throughout his presidency. The disappointments of the left and the right. His successes.”
And, because no episode of WTF would be complete without Marc Maron guiding the conversation toward his own corner of the world, the pair also discussed comedy. Obama cited Richard Pryor and Dick Gregory as his personal favorites, although he also cited Louis CK as “a good-hearted guy, despite some of the subject matter.” So, look forward to seeing that clip pop up on Fox News next week, alongside that potentially controversial SNL monologue where CK talked about how good he imagines molesting children must have to feel to be worth the risk.