By Darren Johnson
I am bi-polar about podcasts. Considering all the driving I do, I get all high and giddy about one, listen to 20 or so consecutive episodes, and then start to hate the podcaster. Maybe this is natural?
Lately, I’ve been tiring of “The Adam Carolla Show.” It has gotten so ranty, and the stories from Carolla so predictable, because they are repeated so often (he’s doing too many different shows, and forgets that he has told similar stories on podcasts with Dr. Drew and other cohorts). As well, he has gotten really braggadocios, regularly reminding us how wealthy because of hardworking he is, not remembering he was lucky to hitch his wagon to a young Jimmy Kimmel’s star back when and happens to live in an area where a B celebrity can make a lot of money. When he has a “guest” on, he usually does 80 percent of the talking, not letting the guest get a point in, and it’s why he gets few A-listers to visit.
But I still listen. I mean, the guy is funny, and has relatable stories.
Then he had on Marc Maron, and I was reminded — I like that guy. Maron, that is. I’d last listened when he had President Obama visit his garage/studio last year.
Maron was able to hold his own with Carolla, and the conversation was more 50-50.
So I went over to Maron’s WTF podcast page and downloaded a bunch. He seems to have a lot more downloaders than Carolla, though Carolla does more shows per week (11 or so vs. just two for Maron); overall, they probably have about the same number of total downloads per week. Different business models.
Maron’s recent double-podcast, No. 700, had Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Louis CK on separately. Carolla can’t get guests like these, as he doesn’t have a large enough audience for the celebrities to care, and, as well, he talks over most guests. They can’t get a word in edgewise. Howard Stern used to have this problem, and adapted his show, and now regularly has A-listers on, too.
Plus Maron does a longer format than Carolla. No sidekick interruptions or sound effects. So, Maron eventually can warm up guests to the point where they spill their guts. (Interestingly, “Adam Carolla Show” castaway Alison Rosen is good at long-form interviewing; for example, her recent podcast with Rhea Seehorn of “Better Call Saul” fame.)
On WTF, Louis-Dreyfuss came off as brash, much more like her “Veep” character than I’d imagined. She says that none of the “Seinfeld” cast communicates with each other. When she is asked about people she dislikes, you can hear her disgust with them in her tone. With CK, we find a comedian, who had finally hit it big in recent years, falling apart. He has wasted a lot of the money he’s made, and had told Stern he is $2M in debt. He quit his popular TV show with two seasons left to make a 10-episode web series, available only on his site — charging $30, no less; who’s going to pay that? From his extensive description of the series, while it has an all-star cast, it sounds like it won’t make nearly enough to net CK a profit. In the 90-minute podcast, we find a vulnerable CK unraveling, rambling about what he considers good cinema.
You won’t get this stuff on regular radio or TV. Maron and Stern are probably it, when it comes to getting A-listers to not only tell you what they think, but how they think.
Not that A-listers are the end-all, be-all. Maron is especially good at interviewing obscure entertainers, too, and making us care.
Though I’m sure I’ll get sick of him, and move on to some other show in a week or two.