It’s common for artists to make creative transformations throughout their career. Pablo Picasso emerged as a painter fixed in realism, later advancing through the blue and rose periods, and concluding as a pioneer of Cubism. With the arrival of More Later, Marc Maron enters the post-aggression phase of his illustrious career. In many ways the Epix special is quintessential Maron; it’s unrehearsed, emotionally raw, and tangent-prone. “I’m taping the special tonight, and I think I’ve got the ending, but I’m not sure,” he confesses backstage. In the few minutes before the set, we find him in a whirlwind of anxiety, which makes one wonder: why the hell does he do this to himself? This approach to stand-up makes for honest art, but sometimes lacking entertainment.
Fans of Maron know his pre-WTF stand-up is overwhelmingly bitter. His first stand-up special in over twenty years marks a dramatic shift. Frustration, cynicism, and anger are present. They’re just turned down on the volume knob. The result is a more digestible hour of comedy.
The journey into the mind of the WTF host begins disjointed. In the first few minutes, he banters with a female audience member about a “properly placed ‘woo!’” and asserts that if he bombs, he can blame it on the deep-dish pizza he ate beforehand. After shedding some pre-show nerves, Maron enters a groove, at least as much as his style affords.
He soon establishes a voice that is somewhat similar to Jim Gaffigan’s famous audience characterization in 2006’s Beyond the Pale. “I’ve got an inner blogger that reviews my show as it’s in progress”, he says. The voice continues throughout, analyzing Maron’s set when appropriate. It berates him for talking about his cats, pokes fun at his desire to explain a joke, and questions his reasoning for walking around the stage. The bit offers a glimpse into the neurotic inner workings of a comedian. Much like the rest of the special though, the jokes don’t always land.
The topics covered on More Later are familiar for avid listeners of WTF. He works through subjects such as sex, anger, kale, and cats with tighter bridges between bits than before. He still offers somewhat of a stream of consciousness comedy experience. As is the case with Faulkner, Maron is not ideal for casual exploration. In a bit about religion, he tackles Christianity with cynicism, but with the benefit of exposing truths. “Did you ever think how fucked up the world must have been when they wrote the commandments?” he professes. This begins a lengthy discussion of Judaism, Good Friday, and Jesus, that concludes with: “Do you think Jesus was a fast zombie or a slow zombie?”
When the WTF host switches to relationships and sex, he brings up some peculiar experiences that are strangely relatable. Many of the anecdotes divulge our most primordial desires for the sake of shedding any discomfort surrounding them. He concludes with a lengthy bit about his compulsive ice cream habit. Right in the middle, he incorporates a performance piece he calls “OCD guy”, where he wonders what it would be like to be an OCD comic. It’s one of the funniest moments of the night. This special showcases a more animated Maron, which is enjoyable.
Over all, More Later is hilarious at times, but due to its fragmented structure, it does not maintain consistency. But this is adequate for a comic, who chooses honesty over mainstream appeal.
Marc Maron’s More Later premieres Friday, December 4 at 10p on Epix.