How did the idea to do a scripted show come about?
I’ve been a comic for a long time. When you start thinking about television, you end up going into network meetings and studio meetings and pitching some version of your life. So I’ve done that a few times, all at different points in my life. That’s how this came about. I got a call from Jim Serpico at Apostle [the production company behind Maron, co-owned by Serpico and Denis Leary], and he’s like, “I love the podcast. Is there a way we can make it into something else?” And I thought, I’m living a pretty interesting life right now. I don’t think I could have pitched a show about interviewing celebrities in my garage 10 years ago. I’m two divorces in, I’ve got other problems, and there seems to be a world here that hasn’t been seen before. And he liked it, and we fleshed it out.
In the first episode of Maron, you confront an Internet troll. Is that something you deal with a lot in real life?
Yeah. I try not to engage with them. But that was actually based on a real thing that happened to me. A guy was posting on a comment board and I sort of tracked him down like I did in the episode with some investigative work, and then started messaging him through Facebook and telling him that if he’s going to attack me, he shouldn’t misrepresent my jokes. We went back and forth for months and months and months until finally he said he was going through a bad time and he moved on.
Has it been strange to go from interviewing other comedians for WTF to having an entire show built around you?
Yeah. It’s weird. But they’re two different things. The podcast is very specific and personal. It’s very much mine. The shift is really between running my own store and being a collaborator, which I enjoy.
It’s fascinating to watch shows like Louie or Curb Your Enthusiasm, where an actor is playing himself. It makes you wonder how close that is to reality.
I don’t think I’m as defined a comedic character as Larry [David] or Louie [Louis C.K.]. Larry is very specific; there’s an agenda to that character. And Louie has a broader emotional range; he’s pushing it. He’s a guy that shit happens to. I seem to be a guy who thinks things are going to happen, but they don’t quite work out.
Tell me about your new book, Attempting Normal.
It’s memoir-style essays. All personal stuff—maybe too personal. I might get in trouble with my dad. I talk about marriages, divorce, cats, guitar, porn, Whole Foods, buying pants. A lot of stuff.
What does your mom think of having an actress play her on the show?
She liked it. Most of the people I’ve shown the show to liked it. I don’t seem to be getting a lot of flak. This guy from The New York Times didn’t love the show, but he seems to like me, and he seemed to like the book. What are you going to do?
Pretty much every profile of you mentions your obsession with your cats. How many cats do you actually have?
Now I have two. Boomer is gone. It’s sad. But my other two, I keep them in the house all the time now. And there’s a couple of feral strays. There’s a deaf black cat, who we call Deaf Black Cat, and there’s a really intense scaredy-cat. But the deaf cat, how tough does he have to be to be deaf out there where there are coyotes and shit? And he’s got a weird meow becausehe can’t really regulate it. It’s off-putting.