You're Doing It Wrong: Stand-Up Comedy

Everyone's a comedian, right? Actually, no: while we may fancy ourselves the belles of the comedy ball when we're half a bottle of whiskey deep, being a real stand-up comic is hard work. Having been in the game since the late '80s, BU alum and "comedian's comedian" Marc Maron knows all about that. "I've been doing this a long time, and people actually want to see me now," he says. "So that's an ongoing ‘what the fuck.' " Hence the title of his biweekly podcast, WTF with Marc Maron. Dude knows about paying comedy dues, so before his Boston gig, we asked him WTF is up with making a career out of being funny.

On rookie mistakes: "I think the number-one mistake is assuming they're not going to like you. And the number-two mistake is assuming that they will."

On taboo jokes: "I don't think there's anything that can't be joked about. If you have a good joke, whatever the topic is, give it a whirl. If you get flack, you're going to have to answer to that flack and see where you really stand on something. You just have to figure out what your intentions are and decide whether it's worth it."

On hecklers: "There are only a couple of things you can do. You can be diplomatic for a minute, and then, if that doesn't work, I would say unleash all of your anger on him. Just try to completely destroy him. But then you have to kind of rebuild the show, because the rest of the audience will be surprised by just how much anger you have. [Laughs] I've had somebody come onstage and tackle me; that was pretty bad. When heckling gets physical, it's always bad."

On which is more awkward, losing stage virginity vs. losing actual virginity: "Definitely stand-up, because with the other, you're definitely going to come. It [his first stand-up gig] was pretty horrible because you spent days or weeks freaking out, just beating the shit out of yourself in fear, and then this three- to five-minute thing finally happens, and there's just no way it's going to match that month of self-abuse that it took you to get there. On some level it's disappointing. But certainly whatever happens up there that first time, the one thing you know is that you never feel more alive in your life than that first time."

On the suggestion that what he described was actually a great metaphor for losing one's actual virginity: [Laughs] "That's right! But a lot of times, with losing your real virginity, it's a surprise. You know you want to lose it, but most of the time you're not sure when it's going to happen. With a stand-up show, you're booked, you've got that open-mic spot three weeks from now, so that's going to happen. The virginity thing is kind of vague. . . . I don't think many people schedule that."

Marc Maron is at the Wilbur Theatre on February 8 :: 246 Tremont St, Boston :: 7:30 pm stand-up; 10:30 pm live WTF podcast :: $20-$25 ::


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