Marc Maron on listening


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About a year ago, Marc Maron (comedian, host of the WTF podcast, and an example in Interviewing Users) was on Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist Podcast. They got into a discussion of interviewing, touching on listening-builds-empathy, the pressure on the interviewer to keep talking and choosing to interrupt.

MM: It’s one-on-one, we’re in a garage, it’s cozy, and I’m pretty much a too-much-information kinda guy and I’ve learned how to listen. I don’t know when that happened. I’m happy it happened but -when I was a kid I grew up with a bipolar father so there’s some part of me that’s wired to emotionally connect with very charismatic volatile people and throughout most of my childhood I would always be attracted to crazy homeless people that walked around where I used to work at this restaurant. I always wanted to hear their stories. I always liked people that were funny and large personalities because I’d been sort of diminished by my father’s brutality in terms of his emotions. And I just find for a long time there I was bitter, and I was “Aw fuck, everyone was out to get to me” and defensive and I’d gotten very cynical and now because of the podcast I’m very empathetic. When I listen, there are times when I’m about to cry, or where I’m so engaged in the story that I’m just happy when -wow I’m into this.

I think that is just my own curiosity, the way I’m wired but I’m very happy that’s happened. I like to listen to people.

CH: It’s something that I certainly I wish I did more sometimes, I’m always like-NO DEAD SPACE, NO DEAD SPACE – always gotta keep talking

MM: I think that’s natural, I do that..Some people criticize for me on my podcast that I occasionally interrupt too much, it’s because they’re not used to listening to interviews the ways I do. A lot of times I interrupt because I get nervous if people are doing some – if someone is a public personality, they’ve got their story, you know, and I can sorta tell when like I’m not the first one to have heard this story, sometimes – it’s happened with Anthrony Bourdain specifically because I wanted to connect with him, but he speaks in public a lot and I listened to part of his interview on Joe Rogan, one because I wanted to see what kind of person he was in conversation and I knew there was a couple of points that he clearly hit regularly so when I heard him start those I was “Yeah, but what about-” I tried to get around them only because I wanted to see if I could get-I ended up getting something different, it was good, it was good. But I’m sorta aware of that stuff. You?

CH: I try to be aware of it, but I also try to keep the conversation going and a lot of times if I’m talking with someone and this is why I don’t do phone interviews because I need to see people, I can tell they are close to finishing a thought and I just don’t want any of those moments where like-if you listen to this podcast you will never hear a [pause} “So-.”


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