Marc Maron never wanted to be anything but a great stand-up comic. But his career proves that you never know where life is going to take you.
An early adopter of the podcast format, Maron’s WTF has just gone over the 1,000-episode mark. And he’s been doing more acting first in his own show on FX, then as one of the key characters in Neflix’s GLOW. Now, he’s getting rave reviews for a role made just for him.
Maron stops by the Morning Shift to talk about the new film Sword of Trust, and how it’s harder to separate fact from fiction these days.
What’s the premise of this film?
Marc Maron: The film is about a couple. Two women come in with a sword that one of them inherited from her grandfather. She was expecting to inherit a house, but inherited this sword and it had some weird documents with it that establishes the case or is part of the facts that the South actually won the Civil War.
Jenn White: And I should say you’re using quote marks around that word ‘facts’ when you say that.
Maron: Oh yeah, definitely. But you know what’s sad is that we live in a culture now where conspiracy theories, they’re part and parcel to the political dialogue and there’s a lot of people who believe it. And there’s sort of an erosion of the notion of truth or the idea that there is factual truth, and it really sort of explores that.
So the movie is driven by me, obviously not believing that but seeing some opportunity in selling this sword … but then the kid who works for me does a little research and there’s a whole world of these Civil War truthers that are amassing these items.
On the surreal comedy featured throughout the caper
Maron: [Lynn Shelton] really is a filmmaker who focuses on empathetic portrayals of humans and so it was very important for her to capture the South and the pace of the South and the people of the South in a genuine way without being condescending or stereotyping.
But I think the beauty of the film is that it’s all improvised and the story is impossible to predict, so you get this strange kind of visceral comedy to it… we didn’t know what we were going to say next. All we knew was the story, so there’s an organic vibe to it.
On acting and the evolution of his career
White: You’re getting a lot of critical acclaim for your performance in this film … does this feel like a natural evolution of your career, or are you kind of surprised to be in this place with acting?
Maron: I’m surprised because I didn’t really think that any of this would happen.
By the time I started the podcast, I was pretty down and out. I sort of had to let go of any of my other dreams that other things would happen so I could function as a person. I had to learn on the job with my own show. I did some acting in high school and in college, and I’ve taken classes here and there. But it was never the thing that I hung my dreams on.
So I’m obviously surprised. I’m surprised by how this film is being received. I think there’s a moment culturally that’s happening that this is speaking to. It’s relevant and the comedy is deep … but I had no expectations. I didn’t even know if this movie would come together. So this is all out of the blue — that this movie, this scene, this character is really getting this attention. I’m thrilled by it, but it’s almost like, ‘Is it really happening?’
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity by Stephanie Kim. Click the “play” button to hear the entire conversation.
GUEST: Marc Maron, comedian, actor and podcaster
LEARN MORE: Marc Maron interview: On Lou Malnati’s, ‘Sword of Trust’ and ‘the trickiest part of acting’ (Chicago Tribune 7/17/19)