As both a working comic, a regular interviewer of the biggest names in stand-up, and an actor in Joker, Marc Maron is uniquely poised to talk about director Todd Phillips' assertion that "woke culture" is killing comedy.
Maron pushed back on the idea floated by Phillips in a recent profile in Vanity Fair, noting that comedy is humming right along without mean-spirited attacks on minority groups being part of people's tight fives.
"There’s plenty of people being funny right now. Not only being funny but being really fucking funny. There are still lines to be rode," he said in the introductory monologue of his long-running interview podcast WTF. "If you like to ride a line, you can still ride a line. If you want to take chances, you can still take chances. Really, the only thing that’s off the table, culturally, at this juncture—and not even entirely—is shamelessly punching down for the sheer joy of hurting people. For the sheer excitement and laughter that some people get from causing people pain, from making people uncomfortable, from making people feel excluded. Ya know, that excitement.”
Maron said that the idea comics can't touch sensitive subjects is only brought up by people who don't want to put in the work, or who might not have the talent to poke at touchy areas.
“If you’re too intimidated to try to do comedy that is deep or provocative, or even a little controversial, without hurting people, then you’re not good at what you do. Or maybe you’re just insensitive,” he said.
Maron closed by noting that there's still a market for knuckle-dragging, cruel comedy, but catering to that market comes with a price. Maron said material like that finds its audience, while being shut out of others. He took exception to the idea that comics are owed a wider audience than the one they can cultivate.
"Bottom line is no one is saying you can’t say things or do things. It’s just that it’s going to be received a certain way by certain people and you’re gonna have to shoulder that. And if you’re isolated or marginalized or pushed into a corner because of your point of view or what you have to say, yet you still have a crew of people that enjoy it, there you go!" he said. "Those are your people. Enjoy your people.”