Marc Maron claims to hold the record for the most guest appearances by a stand-up comic over the 16-year duration of Late Night with Conan O’Brien: forty-four—but I don’t remember seeing him on the show, or ever noticing him during the decade-plus he’s been turning up on Comedy Central and Air America radio. I found out about Maron because in the two years since he started his twice-weekly podcast, it’s been endorsed by notable voices, from Ira Glass to the Slate Culture Gabfest crew. Maron’s show is remarkable for the depth and candor of his conversations with fellow comics. Episodes regularly run as along as an hour-and-a-half; I’ve learned to skip the stream-of-consciousness soliloquies that often compose the first 10-15 minutes and go straight to the interview. His recent show with Chris Rock was extraordinary: Rock reflects on his career-long struggle to avoid being pigeonholed as a black comic, and exhibits an expansive knowledge of stand-up comedians going back decades before his own birth. In the show’s 200th episode, posted back in August, comedian Mike Birbiglia took over as host while Maron played the guest. Birbiglia asked his own questions as well as those submitted by other comics, while Maron showed the same willingness to bare his soul on intimate subjects—the failure of his two marriages, for example—that he regularly inspires in his interview subjects.
Maron performs at 7:30 p.m. and 9:55 p.m. tonight and Saturday at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington. $22. (703) 486-2345.