I am not a huge fan of the WTF Podcast by Marc Maron. I listen to it every once in a while, but it’s not one of those podcasts that I anxiously wait to be updated every week. But yesterday, out of necessity—none of my other podcasts were new—I listened to Maron’s latest podcast, which is a recording of a live show he did in Brooklyn. The show is…it’s outrageously good, with an emphasis on the outrageous. Maron opens with a short monologue about being dropped off at a hotel in Williamsburg Brooklyn. Surrounded by Hasids and directly across the street from the Sukkah Depot, he has a freakout. A Jew himself, being around Hasids creeps him out. He admits its problematic and possibly anti-Semitic, but it’s refreshingly honest. Though I found myself uncomfortable listening to this part, it was impossible not to recognize that that feeling—the feeling of being spooked by any serious display of religion—is a genuine one, and one that comes from (in this case) bad relations within the Jewish community, and the overall fear/distrust of the Other.
Later in the show Marc chats with an astounding number of guests, including Ira Glass, who is hilarious, and a comic and writer who recently left her observant Mormon life. Elna Baker talks about the weirdness of transitioning from being religious to not being religious. That in-between state where you haven’t quite been able to leave, but your heart is not in it at all. It’s pretty amazing. And then more comics come on and they talk about Jewish summer camp, pooping, being an alcoholic, and many other serious/hilarious things.
I don’t think it was the intention of the show to be be particularly about religion, and being uncomfortable with religion, but in the end it’s largely about that, and it’s genius. At this time of year, when we’re about to spend a lot of time in services, and probably for some of that time we’ll be thinking, “Wow, I hate this” it’s nice to hear some people being painfully honest about the way religion ties them in knots. You can subscribe to the WTF podcast on iTunes, or just head over to the WTFpod website and listen to it there.