Your show is dark. How much of it is real?
It’s a mix. The emotions and reactions are 80-90 percent real. And the situations can be: I did confront an Internet troll, but I didn’t do it during a Dungeons and Dragons game. There was a possum under my house, but Dennis Leary didn’t bust my balls for my inability to take care of it. My dad does not live in a motor home. But emotionally, yeah, it’s just an amplified version of my life.
This is kind of your first time doing a series. Why now?
I never really pursued it [Editor’s note: that said, you must read Maron’s account of his failed audition for Saturday Night Live] or I didn’t have the right representation. But I’m comfortable with acting.
Your book, show, podcast and stand-up all deal with really painful, personal issues like your ex-wives and losing your job. Is it hard to re-live that every day?
You talk enough about it, and you get used to it. Being funny about it helps me detach, handle the emotions of it. And it’s good: if I can talk about it, it means I have distance, and it’s not threatening to me.
Thankfully, you seem more well-adjusted in real life than on the show.
You don’t think I’m well adjusted on there? (Laughs.) I don’t know, it’s pretty close to who I am.
Well you do call yourself a “feral cat wrangler.”
I grew up with a lot of dogs, but then someone gave me a cat. Then I rescued a few of them. I find them interesting. They’re not needy, and do things on their own terms. They have unique personalities. I like the tension of cat ownership. They’re not immediately warm animals.
When you started your podcast, you had just lost your radio job at Air America and were going through a painful divorce. What were you feeling?
It was actually a dream of mine: to be able to talk alone on a mic. It’s an amazing skill, and only a few people (have it). Whatever you think of them, Rush Limbaugh, Randi Rhodes and Howard Stern do really well in their own ways. It just grew into this all-consuming thing.
On your podcast you’ve interviewed everyone from Dane Cook to David Cross to Robin Williams — and it can get pretty personal. Does anyone make you nervous?
I get apprehensive if I don’t know their work really well. Then I can only work off of their public persona. It drives me crazy with anticipation. But then I’m usually way off the mark and I find I can engage with them really well.
Anybody you’ve wanted to have on you weren’t able to?
Sure, plenty of people: Iggy Pop, Will Ferrell, Bob Newhart ....
Your book title: “Attempting Normal” ... It seems that you wrote about failing to achieve that goal.
I accept that. There’s a misconception about what normal is. The best you can do is be comfortable with yourself and behave properly. Be OK with things.
Speaking about being OK with things, I have to ask: You seem like a nice Jewish boy. What’s with all the swearing?
I know, right? My grandmother would have said the same thing. I don’t have to do it, and I don’t when I do regular TV. But when I can, I seem to do it way too much.
Fridays at 10 p.m.
Debuts tonight on IFC