The first temptation, after watching three episodes of IFC’s “Maron,” is to call it a lesser “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Both shows feature cranky middle-age men of obsession playing versions of themselves in Los Angeles. Marc Maron and Larry David are Woody Allen-style comics who talk too much, venting neuroses to anyone within earshot, giving viewers both rushes of recognition and twinges of cringe. In the first moments of the “Maron” premiere, Friday night at 10, Maron is blathering on and on about self-sabotage: “When things are going well,” he explains at length, “there’s a voice in my head saying, ‘You’re gonna screw it up, you’re gonna screw it up, Marc.’ ” His listener? His vet.
Maron and David are not afraid to be fully known, to put it mildly. But Maron and “Maron” are decidedly more healing than David and “Curb.” “Maron” has a warmer feel to it, a sense that Maron is a work-in-progress whose life is mid-arc. David has been wildly successful for a long time now, and he is who he is. Part of the humor of “Curb” is based on his stubborn resistance to change. Maron, now 49, has been in comedy for decades, having been on Conan O’Brien’s shows 47 times by his estimation. He is in addiction recovery, and still picking over his issues. His career has only recently found solid footing, thanks to his popular podcast “WTF,” where he delivers monologues and interviews with everyone from Amy Poehler and Chris Rock to James Mercer of the Shins. Suddenly a new-media must for entertainers, he gets between 2.5 and 3 million downloads a month.