Any casual listeners of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast will be forgiven for presuming that the President Barack Obama, whom the comic interviewed a few months back, was the comedian’s ultimate get. His fans know better: The host has been obsessed with talking to Saturday Night Live‘s creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels. In rant after rant — and conversation after conversation with SNL alums — Maron has cursed himself, cursed the “evil wizard” he saw in Michaels and cursed showbiz itself while trying to figure out why he didn’t make it onto the show in 1995, when he was considered for a “Weekend Update” contributor position and ultimately didn’t get it.
Arguably, this meeting, and Maron’s perceived rejection because of it, was a grain of sand that helped shaped the cantankerous black pearl of his comedy over the years. After years of perceived industry indifference, the stand-up comic slowly began to from being a comedian’s comedian to more of a household name, in no short part because of the success of his podcast. During a recent conversation with jilted SNL performer Michaela Watkins, he admitted that he didn’t even know what talking to Michaels would really accomplish for him anymore.
Hard to know whether someone nudged the Saturday Night Live creator or the timing was just right, but Maron finally got his chance for closure a few weeks ago. On the evenings of October 5th and 6th, he finally sat down with Lorne Michaels to talk about everything that’s been on his mind (and gnawing at his gut) for two decades — as well as chewing the fat over showbiz and SNL history, to boot. The episode finally posted on the WTF site today, and here are 10 things we learned listening to the two-hour therapy session-cum-podcast extravaganza.
1. Lorne Michaels is not an “evil wizard” who has it in for Marc Maron
He is not a robot, the cold fish that many friendly (and unfriendly) impersonators have made him out to be over the years, and certainly not the “evil wizard” Maron has long imagined him to be. He’s simply a man who loves writers, performers, putting on shows and chasing a perfection he’ll never achieve. (You knew this already, of course, but it’s intriguing to listen to Maron come to terms with it.) Once the initial dissection of “the meeting” is over, and Maron starts asking Michaels about Canada and his upbringing, you can hear the host relax and get back in the zone. This is, after all, just another conversation. But this brings us to …
2. There is no “candy test.”
At this point, the details of Maron’s ill-fated 1995 meeting with Michaels will be more than familiar to WTF fans: Michaels’ derisive comment about the downtown comedy scene at New York’s Luna Lounge, Maron’s misstep in talking about monkey scat and — the final nail in the coffin — the comedian brazenly taking a Jolly Ranchers from Michaels’ candy dish. As the host presents each talking point as though it were a ticking time bomb, Michaels either defuses it directly or proves that there’s no big boom coming — mainly by refusing to acknowledge the existence of an explosive device whatsoever. (“God, you really remember this,” Michaels says at one point.) For years, the comic has been haunted by the candy dish: Was it some kind of trial that Maron failed when he took a piece? Michaels just corrects him: The dish contained Tootsie Rolls and not Jolly Ranchers — or any other types of sweets for that matter. “There was no alternative candy,” Michaels confirms. “There was just the one.”