Only Marc Maron could get away with telling the same joke twice in a row. It’s easy to be sick of Maron’s rote display of emotional honesty, because he’s been in comedy for decades, and he brings one of the best podcasts to listeners twice a week. He’s been bringing listeners a manic energy regularly for years now, and Too Real is a perfect culmination of all the best aspects of Maron.
Let’s start with the joke told twice. Maron brings the audience through his arc of buying a hat, from “Baby, look at this fucking hat!” to becoming a “house hat” then a “wall hat” then a “Goodwill hat,” before the hipster that was meant to buy it walks in and thrifts it. Maron proceeds to tell the joke again but as The Hat by Marc Maron, a children’s book about a silly, sad man who buys a hat. It adds to the bit’s original take with a sense of sarcastic, child-like wonder that only Maron could bring. It’s one of the moments that Maron ventures outside of his usual sad-angry ranting to bring something really new to his stand-up.
Most of Too Real is classic Maron though. He’s gripping from his completely unexpected opening of “I don’t know what he’s gonna do next, and the people that voted for him don’t know what he’s gonna do next!” Maron provides a nice commentary on the interpersonal social interactions that have followed the shitshow of an administration that’s been in place for the past nine months. One of the best lines comes when he discusses finding out your friends voted for Trump: “Well, now I need to decide what to do with that.” It’s some of the best Post-Trump standup yet.
Throughout the rest of the special, Maron goes on about a number of different topics: death, the abundance of streaming platforms, seeing The Rolling Stones now, and realizing your dad is a fucking idiot. One of Maron’s best facial expressions comes in the dad bit: “What is everything you’ve ever wanted to do, dad? ‘Yeah, you’re right,” followed by a hilariously baffled expression. Maron also makes use of physical humor when recounting the Rolling Stones concert to accurate effect. Everything else is classic Maron.
What’s refreshing about this special is that Maron is never not funny. That’s not to say there are a lot of giggles; so much of Too Real is laugh out loud funny. Maron really shines when he goes through the Post-It notes he writes while driving. “The monster I created to protect the kid inside me is hard to manage” is more depressing than funny, but Maron delivers it with real conviction, acknowledging that it’s not really a funny thought, but what else would you expect from him? He immediately follows by riffing on Dave Matthews fans.
Even though Maron isn’t nearly as anxiety-prone or angry as he once was, Too Real still highlights all the classic aspects from Maron’s work in the early 2000’s to now. He’s a pro, and this is one of his best sets yet.