Waiting for the Punch: Words to Live By From the WTF Podcast

This review contains quoted profanity.

maron waiting for punchSince starting his podcast in 2009 as a last-ditch effort to salvage his decimated comedy career, Marc Maron has become the only real rival to his friend Terry Gross, of NPR’s Fresh Air, as the premier interviewer of the American airwaves (and he interviewed her at the 92nd Street Y in New York in 2015). How influential is he?  While still in the White House, Barack Obama sat down in the garage and shared a remarkably candid discussion with the wrangler of the Cat Ranch. Terry told him details of her life that she’d never revealed — she said her parents would have been horrified by her mild candor — and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth confessed how devastated she was when her husband and band mate, Thurston Moore, left her for a younger woman.

Portions of those three interviews are featured in this book, which takes pertinent sections from the show and splits them into six categories: parenting, childhood, relationships, sexuality, success, and failures.  All the excerpts are brutally candid, such as Conan O’Brien discussing his alienated childhood; Molly Shannon discussing her appallingly hands-off upbringing by her father, which horrified even childless Marc; Bruce Springsteen’s candid Christmas interview in which he discussed how his father’s choices and their effects on the family motivated him to seek therapy as an adult; Amy Poehler admitted she didn’t like other people’s children.

His reactions to guests are often as funny as the guests themselves.  For instance, his conversation with comedian Rich Vos:

RV: Bonnie McFarlane, that’s my wife.

MM: Jesus, what the hell? Why the fuck did she marry you?

Later, interviewing Bonnie McFarlane: “No other comic ever thought that you marrying Rich was anything but a nice gesture on your part.”

Community creator and showrunner Dan Harmon revealed family tension: “If you ever meet somebody who grew up with swell parents, I’m really, really suspicious of them.”

Waiting for the Punch can be read in small chunks or entire chapters. Readers can approach it from any angle and dip in for the advice, information, or encouragement they need. It’s the kind of book readers will return to time and again.

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