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on October 16, 2011
Ok, let's get this out of the way... Marc Maron is easily one of the most talented comedians to emerge from this past decade. I only recently got into him, and I can't believe I hadn't noticed him sooner. Listening to Maron brings backs feelings of listening to Bill Hicks for the first time. But the one thing that Maron has over Hicks and Carlin and other great social critics of our time is that he incorporates his rage and anxiety about his personal life into his comedy in a major way. As a fellow Leftist, pissed off, anxious screw up, I can relate to this dude in a way that I don't really get with other comedians.

So I'm a big fan of the dude. Now, on to the review.

I waited a long time to get This Has to Be Funny, because I had heard from a few people (and a couple reviews on this website) that is was a different Marc. It was less of the rage that made his other albums so perfect. My first Maron album was Final Engagement, which was a whirlwind of emotions, and after which I couldn't wait to get his first two albums. But after hearing how he sounded on this current release, I went into it expecting less than I did with Tickets Still Available or Not Sold Out.

I set my expectations low, and they still really weren't fulfilled.

The first few tracks aren't very good, with a few laughs here and there (the end of Cat Guy, in particular, is absolutely fantastic). Gone is the social criticism that has made him a legend. The tracks about his parents and being stuck in his own head are big laughs and classic Maron, as is Spite Baby. Texting While Driving is good, but nothing special. The Creationist Museum has some great parts, but goes nowhere. It drags on for 17 minutes and never builds up.

This is, ultimately, the major flaw of the album. From here on out, he goes through 3 or 4 stories that have major buildups with almost no payoffs. It continues with Earl's Rooter, Working Out Their Daddy Issues, and Stop Talking. Every one of these tracks have some good laughs, but the final jokes that he is obviously working up to just sink and never satisfy. Maybe another part of the problem is that I just don't really believe the stories. Naturally comedians embellish and exaggerate, but with Maron's past stuff, you felt every aspect of his rage and his misery. Here, some of them just seem like stories any boring comedian would simply make up.

Maron, if you can believe it, seems happier. He admits it at the beginning. He's still a mess, but it's not the same.

I recommend it to any Marc Maron fan only because any Maron is good Maron. But it pales in comparison to his previous three albums.

(Edit: I've listened to it a few times since this initial review. It's pretty damn good. Still not great, but I'll add a star.)
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on August 16, 2011
If you want open, honest, hilarious comedy from a seasoned comic, look no further. Key difference between this and his previous release (Final Engagement) is that Marc's anger has waned considerably. Marc has a lot of hilarious insight on culture and our perceptions of each other. I loved the whole show (clocks @ 1.2 hours - so it loads a complete writeable CD). Another classic.
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on October 9, 2011
I didn't know Mr. Maron until I heard his podcast. At first he can be a little much (angry guy, complains a lot, very neurotic) but then he grows on you and you can't stop listening to him. This style of comedy is not for everyone but sometimes people think I am insane because I listen to this on my Ipod out in public and I laugh to myself. He makes me laugh and that's really what this is about so thank you Mr. Cat Guy!
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on November 16, 2011
If you like Marc Maron, what are you waiting for? Just get it already. I'm putting my review on the CD instead of the MP3 download because the artwork and packaging are nice. There's a blurb/review/prologue? by Ira Glass on the inside that is great, but it's a little bit of a spoiler so you should read it after you listen and not before.

I loved the album. It's simply more Marc Maron, and if you liked the last albums you owe it to yourself to get this one.
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on November 26, 2011
I hadn't gotten into podcasts in general until about 2008, and I did so because of the variety of topics they would discuss, the guests they featured on the episodes, and the hosts' take(s) on seemingly normal material. WTF Podcast with Marc Maron was one of them, and I still listen to this day because of what it brings me: the hilarious and confounding guests and their stories, the introspection from it all, how did they "build their clown" and all that. When Marc released this CD/recording (whatever you want to call it nowadays...mp3 album), I felt compelled to buy it because of the amount of time I invested into this man trying to make his way through the rest of his life post-"angry madman-comedian." What you hear with every track is a bit of selfish neurosis and active questioning to the audience...any audience...if he's good enough.

I do this a lot with friends now that I'm 30 years old, not having attained a college degree yet and actively wishing something would come to me in a dream, so I can empathize with Marc as he pleads to be understood, but good entertainment must include something more. He includes a lot of references that have never meant anything to me: moleskine notebooks, Spaulding Grey, jodhpurs pants...and that's all in the second track! There's a lot of story-telling here in the same way Henry Rollins has been doing it for years, except Rollins doesn't make every story sound like he's lying on a therapist's couch. Maron does. His stories seem to have been culled from the first 7 minutes of every podcast he does, which makes me, an active WTF listener, feel a little ripped off.

If you think you might like this material, all I can suggest is to at least subscribe to Maron WTF podcast for about a month (it's free to subscribe) to get a feel for him and his story-telling, and if you find yourself appreciating the first 7 minutes in every podcast (where he tells you what's going on in his life at that moment in the week), then purchase this recording, but this recording isn't completely comedic or full of bull-acheing jokes like a Brian Regan or David Cross CD would have. It's more of a celebration of man trying to be accepted along with other men, no matter how neurotic you are. Problem is, it's starting to sound a little "one hat."
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on April 24, 2013
This is a good, possibly great comedy album, in my opinion. It is VERY unlike other comedy albums in that it is just Marc being Marc. It's not a big staged affair with an inauthentic feel. It feels like you are just sitting in the audience at a small club. It's your choice to laugh or judge, and you get the feeling that Marc might invite the latter as much as the former. Cheers.
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on August 16, 2011
Marc Maron is in the midst of a wave of success. On the heels of the popularity of his WTF podcast he has earned a deal to broadcast several episodes of the podcast on NPR and has scripted a pilot for development. Those familiar with Maron's comedy know that the majority of his subject matter hinges on his psychological unease and things that do not go well in his life, leaving listeners to wonder what a new album could comprise if positive things are happening for Maron. That question is addressed in the intro, with Maron assuring his crowd that he is not happy or well and that he cannot handle the things that are going well. With that statement, any worries subsided and the album impressed with the way that Maron continues to explore the emotions that inform his daily life and the places his experiences went.

Early on, Marc Maron explores the relationship he has with his notebooks and why he doesn't use Moleskines, his conversations he has with himself and his cats and the way his mother explained why she raised him the way she did - all with the emotional exploration that permeate every story he tells. These lead to the beautiful three-part centerpiece of the album of "Texting While Driving," "The Creation Museum" and "A Situation In My Head." These three stories work well to define the way that Maron seeks to empathize with every one of his listeners and find the shared emotional experience that keeps him from truly feeling alone. From there, the jokes are more riotous and not always as grand in exploration, but they're involving from an emotional standpoint that differentiates Marc Maron from so many other comics.

Maron sounds like he is doing better on "This Has to Be Funny." He is not nearly as dark as he was on his previous album, "Final Engagement," and it lends itself better to repeated listens. Just like on his WTF podcast, the best moments are shared moments of emotional catharsis that ask to be listened to again as a way to feel like a part of something more than the darker inclinations that the mind tends to explore. Marc Maron has been fighting his personal demons for many years and it is finally sounding like he is happy and doing well compared with where he could have been. It has allowed him to create my favorite comedy album of the year without it feeling as though the listener has gone through the emotional ringer with him as his work has done in the past. "This Has To Be Funny" is an album bursting with emotion and laughter at the same time, the components of the best times in life and as a listener it is great to share in a positive time with Marc Maron.
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on September 24, 2011
Great comedy album.
I could visualize everything he said, it all seemed so real and honest.

The last half of the album had some pretty amazing laughs.
One of the best laughs I have had in a very long time.

Highlights for me included Earls Rooter, and the Creation Museum.
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on August 27, 2011
If you listen to Marc on his Podcast, WTF [...], you might miss out on his "pure comedy" (i.e. the "laugh a minute" Marc Maron). You will feel right at home with this delivery on this album. Marc is funny, out spoken, but always seems very personable and relate-able no matter the topic. It helps that he talks about his cats, of course!
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on August 21, 2011
Marc's fourth comedy album is half-good. The first half of the routine is stuff he has said on his WTF podcast in one form or another, and it feels forced when he revisits it on this album. However, you not-helpful clickers, after "The Creation Museum" rant, a new comedy emerges, and it's really funny. I feel like this album was a Siamese twin of its self, and only the second half lived.

But we should expect this from Marc Maron, the reluctant cat guy. He takes time to get used to, even from those of us who know his podcast and his previous albums, etc. He trains us to listen to him, and with regard to his podcast, he's very successful. But this album just isn't always funny. Too much of it is getting there, getting to correct rant, the one that buckles the chuckles rather than merely tickles a well-worn hole.
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