When Marc Maron interviewed Irish comedian Dylan Moran on his WTF podcast back in 2013, Moran replied to a comment about Irish comedy by clarifying that it certainly was not about, “guys in shiny suits flipping out zingers.”
In his naturally defensive and anxious way, Maron replied by saying he didn’t know whether his style of comedy fit in with the uniquely Irish narrative of humour.
And how fitting it was that Maron opened his Vicar Street set on Wednesday by recounting his last visit to Ireland, a visit which brought him to the Kilkenny Cat laughs festival in 2010.
In a self-concealed opening few minutes, Maron described the history of Irish poetry in a single sentence, a sentence taken from a drunken Irishman on a deserted Kilkenny street.
“Here’s to a great life,” the man said, immediately bowing his head and sullenly looking down into his pint, muttering, “…but there’s no hope really…”
To the inner monologue flowing through Maron’s head about whether Irish audiences like him or not, I say, you’ve got to be joking me?
If Maron did feel any anxiousness about his first Irish set in over six years, the Vicar Street crowd made him feel right at home.
I would agree with the Albuquerque comedian’s aforementioned sentiments, however. I don’t believe for a minute that he fits in with any perceived Irish narrative of humour. He can’t, because he’s not from here.
The main reason he can’t possibly fit in is because he is one of the few remaining comedians who helped to build the distinct comic narrative which acts as a guideline for up and coming comic storytellers the world over.
He was once described by a fan as like “an Iggy Pop Woody Allen”, a description Maron himself has fostered as an apt depiction of his latest stand-up performances.
Maron pinpointed his draw openly on Wednesday night when he said: “I have the charisma to be a cult leader…but I lack the vision,” stated with a sense of relief at the fact.
There is no other comedian that channels an inner monologue as well as Maron, and the Vicar Street audience witnessed just that.
Every time Maron did or said something that disrupted the process of his own thoughts, he would channel his inner monologue directly, slumping down, forehead in hand, thinking aloud in a period of self-reflection.
This became funnier throughout the night with any foible reverting into Maron confronting himself in the third person.
Great storytellers are rather hard to find in comedy, so when this troubadour hit the audience with anecdotes like that of the story of Captain Billy, the room erupted… and then cried a little for a childhood ruined.
Maron’s humour balances on the tight-rope of self-belief, with self-doubt waiting destructively in a pool full of crocodiles beneath.
Maron told the Dublin audience that he lives at home with his two cats, Monkey and La fonda. It was through these animals that Maron openly expressed the frailties of the human condition, and what makes relationships so damn difficult.
What crowned the Vicar Street set was Maron’s candid take on addiction, an addiction to ice-cream nonetheless.
It’s no secret that Maron’s past has been addled with drug and alcohol addiction, but coming from the same breed of comic as Bill Hicks and Sam Kinison, it’s difficult not to address tougher issues with a sense of disgust and irreverence. “So I used the vanilla to cut the other flavour of ice-cream…”
The difference between Maron’s set now and 15 years ago is time. He is now completely self-aware and is able to deal with his problems like an adult, as much as he claims to the contrary.
His comedy is of the type which keeps people thinking on their toes, and laughing on their backs.
Marc Maron plays the Southbank Theatre in London tonight, the 4th of September.