Marc Maron treats the audience like a therapist on This Has To Be Funny. Each story begins with an admission—“I’m the guy 20-to-35-year-old women work out their daddy issues on”—followed by Maron finding the most comedic situation possible to illustrate his point. He admits that once, alone in his house and for seemingly no reason, he said aloud, “You’re fucking ridiculous,” tempering it with the follow-up comment: “But you’re no dummy!” Maron delves into his father’s manic-depressive nature, but also his obsession with finding “mustard slacks.” The phrase “I need to get out of my head” is a recurring theme, manifesting itself in how quickly Maron talks himself into, and out of, buying an ice-cream maker.
As his popular interview podcast WTF With Marc Maron also demonstrates, Maron takes great pleasure when he discovers his neuroses are shared. Maron recalls racially profiling a man on an airplane and panicking, requiring multiple in-flight personnel to talk him down. Later, when he explains to the flight attendant that it was all in his head, she leans in and whispers, “It happens to all of us.” Maron’s masterful use of pauses and changes in tone lets the closing line speak for itself. And the story of his visit to the Creation Museum, the album’s longest track, is just as deliberate, honest, and peppered with sharp observational humor—noting the depiction of Old Testament figures as “Jew-y.”
Maron delights in the details, and gets fired up whenever the audience seems to be going along for the ride. Some desperation creeps in when a line misfires (note the album’s title), but for the most part, the audience is happy to serve as Maron’s shrink, especially given how effortlessly he can make raw emotion funny.