In prefacing the formal introduction, the album starts with Maron saying, “Let’s do an honest sound check.” Like everything that follows, it’s raw, but profound, and hysterical.
For all those who have marginally liked Marc Maron, listened to his WTF podcast more for the guests than him, can only take Maron going solo in doses, please take a listen to “This Has To Be Funny”. Almost a resolution mentally, emotionally, even therapeutically to his previous albums, Marc Maron somehow maintains his neuroses while making peace with them at the same time. This is the album that people, whether they know it or not, have been waiting for Maron to put out.
In the very first track, Maron does an honest sound check voicing the pervading disappointments in his life while checking levels for the mic. It’s not only an endearing way to start the journey down his “pit of self”, but it’s also a moment of honesty that is refreshing, even for fans of Maron. Despite having things finally swing in Marc’s favor with the popularity of his podcast, Maron still can’t handle it and it’s hilarious.
Maron has always pushed the limits of how close to personal tragedy in order to find the humor, but in “This Has To Be Funny”, he comes right to the very edge of where the line is. Though filled with crafted jokes, punchlines, clever metaphors, and even points where Marc reaches a point of notable lyrcism, Maron delves into his flurry of seemingly destined to fail relationships, fractured interactions with his family all without apology to those listening, though not really needing one. Getting to the visceral silences, especially in talking about his mom or current girlfriend, are really the gems of the album because that’s when Maron goes for and gets the biggest laughs.
Even at a point where he invokes the name of the album by reassuring an audience member that this indeed has to be funny, it’s undeniable that everyone is on for the ride narrated by Marc’s self-loathing inner monologue no matter where it goes because it indeed is going to be funny. If you’re just using his appearances on Conan as a preview, there’s more than just cats and significant others. He runs through an entire spectrum of topics all the way from his forever dysfunctional parents to an uproarious story about shit, dicks, and roto-rooters to an enlightening visit to the Creationist Museum. While making light out to the darkest corner of his subconscious, Marc has offered proof on the CD of the words in his keynote address at the Just For Laughs Montreal Comedy Festival where he says that comedy has both ruined and saved his life.
The prospect of witnessing someone coming to terms with their issues may not sound the most appealing when it comes to a comedy CD, but that’s a testament to Marc Maron, his comedy, and the understanding of people that he’s reached in order to inspire laughter that’s not only hardy, but memorable. If it wasn’t, I imagine that This American Life’s Ira Glass wouldn’t have contributed to the liner notes in physical copies of the album.