Marc Maron, wits of rage

There are certain things that will never change for Marc Maron. After spending nearly 30 years honing his craft, he remains an unstoppable whirlwind of gross confessionals, neurotic ramblings, and acerbic wit. His act is a careful balance of flaw and hyperbole, and he falls somewhere in the existential chasm separating the troubled genius from the everyday asshole.

On Thursday night, the mustachioed funnyman (and host of the increasingly popular comedy podcast WTF) kicked off his three-night stint at Acme with a sold-out show that went on to prove why he is still very much one of the most gifted -- albeit difficult -- standup personalities of our time.

Following two solid performances from host Nate Abshire and feature act Amber Preston, Maron's set was comprised of mostly new material and fell just shy of the 90-minute

"Every time I come to Minnesota I just feel like I'm taking my Red Wings home," Maron quipped.

But what makes Maron's Acme shows particularly unique is that it's his first visit to the club in 12 years. After witnessing his "boorish behavior" at a comedy festival over a decade ago, owner Louis Lee had the comic banned from performing at the club indefinitely. Unsurprisingly, Maron didn't shy away from speaking candidly about Lee's sentiments. His set opened with a protracted anecdote about his last time performing at the club, recounting everything from a midday visit to a local strip club, to an unfortunate sexual experience, to a weekend-long cocaine shortage.

As a comic, perhaps Maron's greatest feat is his penchant for barreling through seemingly aimless tangents or rants while still managing to tell a comprehensive story that leaves you in stitches. He is also a master of juggling extremes, constantly bouncing from soft to loud, volatile to steadfast, ecstatic to world-weary.

While Thursday's set wasn't entirely devoid of Maron's quintessential self-obsessed tirades, he actually kept his psychoanalysis to a minimum. At one point he even went out of his way to address (and defend) his reaction to the passing of conservative talking head Andrew Breitbart, wherein he tweeted "Andrew Breitbart is dead. My condolences are only tempered with joy."

There were few lulls over the course of Maron's performance. He appeared tireless, yet fidgety, alternating between sitting on a stool and pacing. He derided Mormons, atheists, and, yes, even Delta Airlines. By the end of the night a good section of the audience was becoming noticeably drained, which led to a couple minor outbursts.

But the interruptions didn't kill any of Maron's momentum, despite some meandering before deciding on a closer. He devoted the remaining 30 minutes of his set to spinning a yarn about his exceptionally young girlfriend, eventually closing with an extended version of the "Stop Talking" bit from Maron's most recent release, This Has To Be Funny.

Some comics grow up and lose their edge. Others just stop being funny. But the less alienating Maron is, the more entertaining he becomes. While he's traded in some of his shock value for stability, he can still manage to bring audiences to a place far more personal and raw as he navigates the rocky foothills of his mind one neurotic tendency at a time. It's self-absorbed, heavy-handed, crass, and occasionally antagonistic.

Oh, but he's also devastatingly funny.


Marc Maron
Acme Comedy Co.
All shows are currently SOLD OUT
8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

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Acme Comedy Co.

708 N. 1st St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401


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