Marc Maron’s indie pilot was screened Tuesday at the New York Television Festival, and yours truly happened to be in attendance. The show, tentatively titled Maron, follows a version of Marc Maron going about his daily life, with Ken Jeong guest-starring as Ken Jeong, a guest on Maron’s podcast, and Ed Asner playing Maron’s dad. The handheld camera and realistic style drew inevitable comparisons among the audience to a certain other free-wheeling TV masterpiece starring a standup, which Maron acknowledged:
’When I was going to a meeting at Fox’ to pitch the pilot, Maron revealed in a Q&A with the audience following the screening, ‘we were walking through the parking lot and Louis was driving out. He was just alone in his car, and he was like, “Hey, what’s going on?” I said, “I’m meeting with Fox. We did a pilot presentation.” He goes, “Really?” And I said, “Yeah, it’s called Louie also.’
Personally, I found the pilot to be very funny and more or less thematically faithful to the neurotic concerns of WTF. It was fun to see the process of creating the podcast intersect with Maron’s personal life, as he brings - and sometimes awkwardly shoehorns - his own issues into the guest interview (though coming from a place of familiarity with the podcast but not Maron’s standup, it was unexpectedly trippy to see his face along with hearing his voice).
The only downside for me was that Maron is at his best (on the podcast, and from what I’ve heard in his standup as well) when he’s doing stream-of-consciousness. His recitation of scripted lines felt stilted - not necessarily because he’s a bad actor, but because the cleverly written lines felt limiting. What makes his monologues so powerful in other formats is the feeling that he’s making it up as he goes along, discovering the truth about his inner life in real time. Hopefully, if Maron gets picked up somewhere, it’ll be able to more fully harness that sense of spontaneity and free exploration.