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Maron's material fails when he leaves familiar ground

Posted 3/10/20

By Kevin McDonough

Attributed to Mark Twain, the adage "Write what you know," certainly applies to stand-up artists. Few comedians' work comes off as thoughtful and "written" as the cerebral Marc Maron, star of "GLOW" and featured in his own …

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Maron's material fails when he leaves familiar ground

Posted

By Kevin McDonough

Attributed to Mark Twain, the adage "Write what you know," certainly applies to stand-up artists. Few comedians' work comes off as thoughtful and "written" as the cerebral Marc Maron, star of "GLOW" and featured in his own stand-up special "Marc Maron: End Times Fun," streaming today on Netflix.

"Fun" builds slowly and ends, as the title suggests, with a bang. Like most comedians, and many writers, Maron is on most authoritative ground when discussing himself. He freely admits to the fact that plenty of people have no idea that he is a big-deal podcaster (if there is such a thing) or have any familiarity with his work on Netflix.

Interestingly, this contrasts with a confession Dave Chappelle made to the late James Lipton, who died just last week. On "Inside the Actors Studio," Chappelle confessed that he needed to step back because fame was a burden that had made him unhappy. "You can become infamous," observed Chappelle, but "you can't get un-famous."

Maron uses his vague quasi-celebrity to make clever insights about nervous liberals who complain about the president but who would rather go to yoga class than become politically active. He describes an era, not that long ago, before Google enabled you to answer nagging questions with a few keyboard clicks. In great detail, he evokes a nerve-wracked day in the 1980s when he could not remember the name of George Washington Carver, a haunting event that involved frantic phone calls, ancient phone machines and even (gasp) a trip to the library.

Maron's ability to make finely observed commentary on a neurotic's thought-processes makes the special's frantic conclusion even more disappointing.

Gathering steam as he rants about current events, he muses on the millions of his fellow Americans who not only don't fear global warming, environmental destruction and the end of days, but seem more than eager for them to arrive. This worries him.

He raises an interesting point. Presumably, few people who download Maron's podcasts understand the wide appeal of "Late, Great Planet Earth" theology and its social and political impact. How many of Maron's fans have read the "Left Behind" book series or the best seller that inspired the movie "Heaven Is for Real" (10 p.m., Lifetime, TV-PG)?

But while popular Revelations mythology offers perfect fodder for the secularly nervous, "End Times" unravels when Maron launches into rather obscene territory, something pornographic about Mike Pence and the Rapture. You can really feel him leaving his conceptual comfort zone and reaching for easy and obvious laughs.

• The sports documentary "Women of Troy" (9 p.m., HBO, TV-14) recalls the role of the USC women's basketball teams of the 1980s in redefining the image and expectations of the sport and paving the way for the WNBA.

• Life after graduation looms large tonight. A recent graduate (Jesse Eisenberg) works at a failing amusement park in the 2009 coming-of-age comedy "Adventureland" (9 p.m., Starz Encore), co-starring Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Martin Starr.

• Patrick Swayze stars as a mullet-sporting Ph.D. student-turned-bouncer in the 1989 thriller "Road House" (8 p.m., AMC, TV-14) co-starring Sam Elliott, Kelly Lynch and Ben Gazzara.

TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

• A noted surgeon proves unreliable on "The Resident" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

• A "winner" emerges on the 24th season finale of "The Bachelor" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

• A trip to New York on "This Is Us" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

• Murders may have a political agenda on "FBI" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

• Vigilante violence on "FBI: Most Wanted" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

• Max makes waves on "New Amsterdam" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

• Marie reflects on her marriage on "For Life" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14).

CULT CHOICE

A thin plot about a songwriting co-ed (Mary Ann Mobley) launches a showcase of jazz, rock and bossa nova talent in the 1964 musical comedy "Get Yourself a College Girl" (1 p.m., TCM, TV-PG), featuring performances by the Animals, the Dave Clark Five, Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto, among many. Nancy Sinatra and Chad Everett star as well!

SERIES NOTES

A murder follows a familiar pattern on "NCIS" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14) * Prizes galore on "Ellen's Game of Games" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) * Wally West arrives on "The Flash" (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG) * Lucious sees a record deal in Yana's future on "Empire" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14) * Encore inspires a change in plans on "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).

LATE NIGHT

Charles Barkley and Peter Sarsgaard sit down on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" (11:35 p.m., CBS) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Charli D'Amelio and 070 Shake on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) * Cillian Murphy, David Simon and Steve Ferrone visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC).

© 2020, United Feature Syndicate