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Scorched Earth Policy

Marc Maron sets comedic fire to his divorce travails, charring the audience in his path.

Stand-up comedian Marc Maron (see CD review, 3/9/06) is in the middle of a month of Sundays of a solo show that is less stand-up comedy than a rant fueled by anger over his second divorce. The show, titled “Scorching The Earth,” at The Green Room below the Bleecker Street Theatre, has occasional touches of the stand-up persona Maron has presented in the more conventional world of live albums and Comedy Central specials, but at times falls into a trap of getting too bogged down in his own animus toward his most recent ex-wife.

For instance, a few agreeable or more appealing bits come as Maron recalls not being able to do the scenic Arizona desert wedding his now ex and he wanted, because, both being Jewish, it was inevitable they would hear, “Esther can’t get up the hill,” and they would be forced to relocate the ceremony to the safer, and less treacherous terrain of a New Jersey catering hall.

As Maron goes to dig into an elaborate e-mail written to his ex (I almost don’t want to mention her name as a result of all the animus Maron is throwing her way, although this site once reviewed her own solo show a few years ago, if you want to look it up or figure that out), he notes that various friends told him not to send it, which really does sound like great advice as he starts revealing what he wrote in it. This reviewer has had his own share of bad break-ups or dumpings and can certainly sympathize with the sentiment and feeling of being wronged, but even so, Maron’s diatribes in this show kind of wore an audience out after awhile.

It’s almost like the sad trap Lenny Bruce fell into, reading transcripts from his own obscenity trial, pulling himself away from entertaining with comedy, or even exhibiting wit. The tricky thing though, is that Maron still delivers some wit and laughter along the way, however dark, in this show, as when a friend comments about his letter that Maron was “scorching the earth,” and he thinks that’s good -- “like I’m an ‘earth scorcher,’ yeah!” Or, making a more general observation about addiction, which figured into his first failed marriage, Maron says he feels sorry for those who have never been addicts because they don’t know what it’s like to want something that much.

But the bulk of “Scorching The Earth” gets to be more like a psychological or legal case study than a comedic show. Maron’s always been caustic and that’s part of his appeal, but one hopes this show doesn’t end up scorching his previous comedic style and point of view.




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