Episode 613 of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast covered everything: comedy, jobs, fears, family, politics, race, identity, criticism. The blend was nothing too surprising—except, this time, instead of a comedian, writer or entertainment legend, Maron’s guest was President Barack Obama.
“It was crazy, man: I had the president in my garage!” Maron told Entertainment Weekly.
The crazier part was that there were no guidelines or restrictions for the host, who was allowed to ask any question and has final edit.
The president was pretty much who Maron was hoping he’d be.
“He’s just a guy. I was just hoping that it would be a guy sitting across from me, that at some point I’d go, ‘He’s the president, but I need him to be just a man, just a dude.’ And he was like that very quickly. Maybe that’s how good he is, and maybe that’s really what I was experiencing. But then he disarmed me very quickly—I don’t know if I disarmed him—but I felt comfortable with him. I felt like I was talking to a real person—very gracious and thoughtful—but you see his face, and you see his skin and shake his hand, touch his shoulder. He felt like a real person to me. I felt like he was genuine and connected. That was surprising to me.”
According to Maron, the president’s grounded aura finds its way into his involvement with all things—most importantly, the political realm.
“Just how he approaches his job and his life psychologically, given the obstacles and amount of slander and shame and demonization that he’s had to put up with—just like I think any president puts up with from one side or the other—and having a Congress that was proud to not work with him at all on anything. In the face of all these obstacles, he doesn’t seem to possess the capacity to be consumed by disappointment. He basically said that if he feels that there’s any incremental progress in what he did in making America a better place, that he’s doing his job. It’s not about huge leaps and bounds. Democracy works incrementally, and he’s looking at the long game in a sense that he’s not going to be bogged down by anything. He’s going to figure out a way to make progress despite whatever obstacles there are. He said that with a very clear mind, clear heart, that that’s the way he sees the world, and that’s pretty impressive.”
Obama, who attended Occidental, a college just down the road from Maron’s East LA home, had his own thoughts about the event: “If I thought to myself that when I was in college that I would be in a garage a couple miles away from where I was living, doing an interview as president with a comedian – it’s not possible to imagine.”
The interview will be available Monday, June 22, on the WTF website, iTunes and the podcast’s app. The episode is aptly titled “WTF Summit.”