The Yuk Yuk’s-and-college-students vibe many people associate with standup comedy papers over a core element of humor: all the pain, anxiety, and depression. Marc Maron’s podcast has broken lots of ground bringing the tie between pain and comedy to the fore. Most of his guests talk about depression and anxiety (to really go there, check Paul Gilmartin’s podcast). Maron seems to plug a 1973 book called The Denial of Death every other week or so and has said his favorite of the many sub-types of laughter is the laugh that borders on anguish.
His guest on yesterday’s episode was Mike Lawrence. Lawrence grew up in a Florida trailer park, son of an alcoholic father and manipulative mother (divorced). He was suicidal throughout his childhood and shaved off his eyebrows in high school, which is slightly goofier than when he unsuccessfully hung himself. He worked at McDonald’s for seven years. S-e-v-e-n. Because, as he says, “When you love the world, the world loves you back.” He was too poor to be a proper goth but too miserable not to perform horrendous poetry. Now he’s a class-conscious nerd with a lot of heart and some great jokes. His Conan set is on YouTube but this is more intimate.
Meanwhile, comedy genius and pug enthusiast Maria Bamford has a new special largely based on the suicidal depression that hospitalized her just over a year ago at age 40. She was on The Nerdist podcast this week talking to Chris Hardwick about it. Hardwick is one of those hyper-motivated, eternally cheerful men that decent people rightly avoid, but he’s a genuinely sweet guy and Bamford is fucking incredible as always.
Lastly and least suicidally, this week I discovered a NEW HOUR from one of the best standups alive (new to we who don’t buy dvds anyway). Dylan Moran isn’t Louis CK, but he’s up there. If you haven’t seen any of his specials, you suck and you should kill yourself. (Zing?) No, here you chronologically go: Monster (drawings are all his, btw); Like, Totally; What It Is. His BBC series Black Books is also super and mostly on YouTube, I think.
Moran’s an Irishman now living in Scotland and this set is from a small venue called The Róisín Dubh in Galway. After some initial riffing on Irish politicians the set rises to a consistency that’s dizzying. Moran addresses all the big stuff – death, class, gender, youth, eating, hatred of work, parenting, aging, technology – with a mixture of humility and linguistic whimsy that makes Greg Proops seem lubberly. Audio only so crank it while you cook or count your pills or something.