If you’ve been aware of the comedy scene at any point in the past … oh, twenty years or so, you probably know who Marc Maron is. Even if you’re not familiar with his standup, you know that he has a certain stature in the world of comedy. And you’ve probably listened to at least part of the podcast he did with Barack Obama out of his garage.
Anyway, Maron is now bringing his comedy chops (honed through decades of standup, years of his über-successful podcast, and his own show, IFC’s Maron) to Netflix’s GLOW, which is pretty much already a hit, if we’re going by critical acclaim and word of mouth alone.
Maron has a spectacular turn in the show as Sam Sylvia, the sleazy but visionary creator and “director” of the fictional version of Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. His constant pratfalls getting into and out of the ring are hilarious, but are nothing compared to Sylvia’s manic, coked-up stream-of-consciousness creation of a wrestling promotion using women who largely don’t know what pro wrestling is. If comedy can be said to contain a bravura performance, Maron has done it here.
I had a chance to chat with Maron at the Los Angeles premiere of GLOW and ask him about the show and about his journey from real-life wrestling skeptic to fictional wrestling impresario.
I know that you were never much of a wrestling fan, but you’ve since formed a friendship with Colt Cabana and some others. Has that influenced or changed your opinion of wrestling over the years?
Colt, and [CM] Punk, and Mick Foley. I know those guys. I interviewed Mick Foley years ago. My producer for the podcast is a big wrestling kid. I was one of those guys that was sort of like, [condescending voice] “Wrestling? Isn’t that bullshit?” And he kind of started introducing me to wrestlers, and I started interviewing wrestlers, [and] I started to understand it more.
This was years ago [now], before I even did GLOW. I think it’s sort of hard to come to wrestling as a fan at my age, but I certainly understand and appreciate the spectacle of it, and the sport of it. I’ll call it a sport, because it does take a lot of physical [ability]. Watching these women do it, they were there for weeks doing it. And when I got there, they were like – oh, my god! They were like a team already.
At this point, do you consider pro wrestling to be more of a sport or more of an art form?
I think it’s an art form, it’s a spectacle. It’s a specific type of entertainment. I think the sport of it is more of an illusion, but I think everybody knows that. But I think the spectacle and the story, and the theater of it. I would consider it more of a theatrical event than anything else.
[laughs] Yeah, definitely, and I read that years ago. The elevation of why the spectacle of wrestling functions for the fans, is that when you have these simple stories of good and evil, and these characters that represent each … normal people can emotionally connect to it. Can sort of live those emotions that they have frustration with in their lives, and don’t get satisfaction for in their lives, through the spectacle of wrestling. Yeah, definitely.
What was the experience like working on GLOW and how do you feel about the finished product?
I think it’s amazing. One of the reasons I did it was because I’ve never seen anything like it. I never saw anything like that world. And then having the opportunity to work with these women; I’ve never been around this many women before. It was a little crazy at first, because I was like, “That’s a lot of women here.”
And then it just became very emotional, and very connected. Everyone was close and supportive, it felt like the show [within the show], being on the set. We were all working towards this goal. It’s a big thing to wrangle, you know?
GLOW premieres on Netflix on Friday, June 23.