May 4, 2013



MARON:  Friday 10PM on IFC – If Nothing Else Is On…

Everyone wants their Louie.  TV comedies built around fictional versions of real-life comics are nothing new–they go back to the days of Jack Benny and George Burns–and Larry David followed Seinfeld with his own notable success on Curb Your Enthusiasm.  But the near folk-hero status of Louis C.K. since his remarkable show burst on the scene (and to a lesser extent Lena Dunham with Girls, since while that’s not technically about “Lena Dunham,” many people think it is) has led to a spate of comics with low-budget, low-tech shows about their grungy lives, and networks hoping to make a mark by showing them.  Earlier this year we had Jim Jefferies and Legit, and now Marc Maron gives us MARON, IFC’s newest effort.

In its initial appearance, Maron doesn’t seem to be in a class with its fellows, even the shambling, genially pointless Legit.  Although there are other characters in the episode (written by Maron and directed by Luke Matheny), they’re mostly just sounding boards for Maron’s own monologues.  This fictional “Marc,” like the real Maron, is a comic who’s found a 21st-century fame with his highly successful podcast WTF in which he interviews other comics from a homemade studio in his garage .  This Maron is also divorced, and lives alone with his cats in Los Angeles.  The minimal plot has Maron tracking down an internet troll who sends out insulting tweets about Maron’s comedy, and–accompanied by Dave Foley, as “himself”–finding the guy playing Dungeons & Dragons in the back of an auto supply store.  The big-mouthed online troll who’s really a puny man-child loser playing nerd games is an awfully blatant cliche, and watching the climactic scene, you wait for some kind of spin on the character, but there isn’t one–the only supposed twist is that while the troll and his friends despise Maron, they think Dave Foley is hilarious.

The rest of the episode is Maron engaging in desultory conversation with a vet he appears to have a crush on, bumping into his ex-wife (he’s still bitter), and meeting a fellow divorced guy with cats.  There’s very little here in the way of drama or conventional comedy, and these “ordinary people” Maron is talking to aren’t nearly as interesting as the celebrity guests on his podcast, so the show is mostly half an hour of a cranky guy driving around and having essentially random encounters.

Louis C.K. didn’t just arrive at his breakthrough show from nowhere–it took him years of stand-up, and a failed, very conceptual HBO series, to find his muse.  With time, Maron may improve if its creator/star experiments with format and content.  For now, though, his segue into TV is a little dim.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."