Marc Maron on 'Louie' Comparisons, Jon Hamm 'Rejection' and Breaking Up on TV (Exclusive Video)

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Dmitri Von Klein

“Marc is a veteran stand-up comic, and a very good one. A few years back, he began doing podcasts with his colleagues. They’ve become essential listening for anyone connected to comedy. A fascinating peek into the minds of some of the world’s funniest people.”

IFC star Marc Maron has a unique pitch for appealing to TV viewers: "I am a grown man with no children, and I have problems mentally and emotionally — and I have to assume that there's plenty of us out there."

The Maron star had plenty to say during a June 11 Q&A session, where he discussed his friendship with Louis C.K. ("He thought eventually I would destroy myself"), being too afraid to call Jon Hamm to hang out after the Mad Men star gave him his number, and the dangers of portraying a real-life breakup on TV.

(Watch the full, uncensored video above.)

Here, we present highlights from the conversation, which and also featured Maron executive producers Michael Jamin and Sivert Glarum. The panel was part of the SAG Foundation's conversations series and was moderated by staff editor Aaron Couch.

Do you have a policy for giving people a heads-up if you use a personal story about them on your show?

Marc Maron: I've been learning lessons about that recently. I think if I surround those moments by fiction that the people who are involved will be able to detach from it. But they tend to take it personally still. I've had to rebuild a bit with my father.

Sivert Glarum: Last season, I think Marc experienced a lot of turbulence with people in real life. He was a little more cautious in the second year.

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You went through a real-life breakup last year, and incorporated it into the second season. How early did you know you'd put that on TV?

[In the show, a married couple gives couples therapy to Marc and his onscreen girlfriend … and it gets strange.]

Maron: When I was with her, she didn't want to be represented in it anymore, and the network didn't want it to be a romantic comedy. So those episodes were constructed storywise before we broke up, and the breakup was much different. The weird thing about that episode is we went to couples therapy and that happened. That's based on reality. So now I was concerned about my therapist. When the episode aired I had to give my therapist a heads-up. I still see him alone, and I'm like, "What'd you think?" and he said, "I understand why you were concerned."

Ray Romano plays himself in season two, and he's a jerk in the episode. What are those conversations like when deciding how a guest star will be portrayed on the show?

Maron: We needed somebody of a certain level of celebrity for that to work. We had originally thought of a lot of different people. Celebrities are busy. We didn't know who we were going to get because we had gone through our first choices. Because he's so nice, he's not the guy we thought of. When we were able to get him, he was so thrilled to play against type. Watching the episode, there couldn’t have been a better choice.

Glarum: That was based on a kernel of truth from Marc's life. He interviewed Jon Hamm

Maron: Jon was the first one we reached out to initially. Jon Hamm came to my house [for a podcast interview, and suggested they hang out sometime]. For weeks I was like, "I've got Jon Hamm's number in my phone." And I really didn't know — "What do I do with that? Can I just call Jon Hamm?" I answered that question myself with "No, you idiot. You can't just call Jon Hamm. What are you going to do with Jon Hamm at a taco place?" I never did call him. There's rejection involved — what if Jon Hamm goes "I can't do tacos today?" How many times do you call back?

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In the old days, did you and Louis C.K. ever discuss both having autobiographical TV shows?

Maron: Louis and I go way back. There was a conversation I had with Louis when he was upset about a comic coming on the scene and getting opportunities because he was attractive. He was like, "Comedy is not for them." He was livid about it. "I want to get on Letterman before I'm fat and bald!" That was his biggest concern. After a certain point, Louis became incredibly capable in a lot of different areas. I think the real question was "What is going to happen to Marc?" I don’t know if Louis ever had a tremendous amount of faith. He thought eventually I would destroy myself one way or the other.

What is your policy on doing standup on the show?

Maron: It happened this time. The first season, by some divine providence, Louie took a year off. It was the greatest thing. It took everything I had not to thank him. We live in a weird, predatory culture that just wants to compare things and start fights. I knew in my heart Louis and I live very different lives. We are both comics and we both chose single camera. I knew the comparisons were going to be inevitable. It was sort of a panic that I had. The fact that he was off was good, and I decided for a season let's stick with the podcast. The comic thing has been done.

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Where would you want a third season to go?

Maron: I imagine we want to have me have an adult relationship for real. I imagine we want me to have a little more money and not be able to know what to do with it. I think we'll follow the course we've been on, which is just a year or two behind where I am now.

For more SAG Foundation conversations, head over to their YouTube page.

Twitter: @AaronCouch