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This one hurts...
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.)