Tackling complex issues isn’t anything new for working comics. Yet ever since the early morning hours of November 9th, 2017, many of America’s top comedians have struggled publicly with how best to handle a delicate and cumbersome subject — the president of the United States. Al Madrigal went the confrontational route in his Showtime special, whereas Sarah Silverman opted for a more discursive one in her Netflix concert film. The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, meanwhile, went so far as to analyze the president-as-performer. “When I see Trump, I see a stand-up comedian,” he told CNN’s Van Jones. “He connects with audiences in the same way.”
2017 has produced plenty of stand-up specials largely devoid of Trump’s name. Whenever a comedian avoids discussing one of the most well-known figures during their set, however, the audience tends to notice. This in a way is what happened to WTF podcaster and GLOW star Marc Maron, whose new Netflix special, Too Real streams today. “I was doing it out of necessity because I was working this hour-plus show since before the election,” he tells Uproxx. “The thing had to evolve and I had to ground it.” So he did, almost as if some cruel prankster decided to add a new clause to Godwin’s Law — the internet adage pinpointing the probability that someone in an online forum will eventually be compared to Hitler.
Even so, the veteran performer devised a simple trick for including the reviled commander-in-chief in his first 10 minutes. Except for one or two brief moments, Maron hardly ever mentions Trump by name. He does talk about the president, of course, and whenever he does, the contemporary viewer will have no doubt in their mind that Trump is the person Maron is talking about. In doing so, he astutely combines the opening segment with a series of subsequent “broad pieces about the fear of what’s going to happen next.” Put differently, Maron has figured out how to get “too real” and make us laugh at the same time.
The first 10 minutes are all about Trump, but you almost never say his name. Once, maybe twice, but that’s it. Was this by design?
I have a hard time saying it. I don’t like saying “President Trump.” I don’t like saying his name. I don’t like really uttering his name that often. Whatever presence he’s holding in terms of my world, and how the fear is manifesting itself or the anger is manifesting itself, I’m just assuming that, if you’re not feeling that, I’m not really talking to you. But if you are, you know exactly what I’m talking about.