How Has Marc Maron Not Done An HBO Special Until Now?
Yesterday, HBO announced that prolific podcaster and alternative comedy legend Marc Maron will be filming his first hour-long special for the most prestigious network in stand-up in early December. The comedian first rose to prominence in the 1990s with a record-setting 41 appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien before starting the lauded podcast WTF with Marc Maron, which has hosted the likes of President Barack Obama, Lorne Michaels and Sir Paul McCartney in loose, long-form conversational interviews that made Maron one of the most popular and critically acclaimed podcasters in comedy.
So what took so long? Why did HBO drag its feet to film a special for one of the most influential voices in modern comedy? How have we been subjected to 20 seasons of Real Time with Bill Maher before we got a single hour of Maron?
Maron has long fashioned himself as a bit of a show business outsider. Fans of WTF will know the story of how Maron blew his chances of working at Saturday Night Live during a disastrous interview with Lorne Michaels, a topic that Maron and the mogul discussed during a 2015 episode of the podcast. Even the podcast itself is the result of Maron getting pushed out of more traditional comedy mediums — he started WTF in 2009 after getting fired from his fourth consecutive attempt at hosting a talk show on Air America, a now-defunct liberal radio network.
In Maron’s Netflix specials, he’s talked about his authentic and personal approach to stand-up — he’s not a “preparer,” as he puts it, and he prefers the intimate settings of smaller rooms to the drowned-out hysteria of a stadium tour. Like everything the comic does, Maron plays his sets loose and holistically — sometimes he’ll interrupt his own story to read a text he just received out loud to the audience, other times he’ll spend 15 minutes just talking about his ride to the venue. Maron’s method is similar to that of a naturally talented chef who eschews measuring cups or timers in favor of eyeballing and feeling it out.
His iconoclastic style and personality seem like an easy explanation as to why, despite his widespread popularity, Maron’s never done a full hour on the biggest stage in premium cable. However, desire has never been the issue — Maron told Variety, “I’ve wanted to do an HBO special my entire life. Literally my entire life. Not since I started doing comedy, but since I started watching comedy as a kid. It was where the real comedy happened. Always. I’m honored to be working with them.”
Though HBO hasn’t given an explanation for the delay, they did acknowledge that the booking is a little bit behind schedule. Said HBO’s Executive VP of Programming Nina Rosenstein, “We’re long-time fans of everything Marc does, from his iconic podcast to his fearless standup. … This long overdue collaboration is an extra special one for us.”
Whatever the reason for the wait, we’re just glad that Maron is finally getting his time in the sun. Despite the widespread admiration that Maron has among the entertainment community — Brad Pitt has watched the entirety of his IFC sitcom Maron three times — Maron is still an underappreciated underdog in many respects. For instance, his stellar performance in the unfairly canceled series GLOW deserved more recognition than the part or the show itself received. Nevertheless, after 35 years in comedy, Maron will finally be paid his due when his debut HBO special premiers sometime in early 2023.
And the WTF episode where Maron will complain about the lousy state of the green room and the weird look the stage manager gave him will premiere about an hour and a half after the special’s taping.