Marc Maron's IFC comedy series Maron has become an early summer treat, and continues to grow as an astounding collection of short films that perfectly capture the WTF podcast experience and what it means to fans. Maron Season 3 kicked off two weeks ago, and on the eve of what is one of our favorite episodes to date, we caught up with the comedian and talk show host himself to find out what we can expect when Ex-Pod debuts this Thursday night.

In this all-new episode, Marc Maron must mentally prepare himself to interview his ex-wife on his podcast. He also decides to seek relationship advice from WTF guest Mary Lynn Rajskub. Things get weird when Marc gets a little handsy with Mary Lynn just as his ex walks up the driveway. That leaves the inevitable question: Are they good?

You can tune into the full episode of Maron to see how messy Marc's interview with his ex really gets! Ex-Pod airs Thursday, May 28 at 10PM ET/PT on IFC. But first, get a sneak peek at the rest of the upcoming Season 3 run as we put one of the best interviewers in the world on the other side of the microphone. The comedian offers insight into how he separates his real life from his TV life, who we can expect to see in the weeks ahead, and offers the definite answer to whether or not Andy Kaufman is still alive. Stop reading if you don't want to know the answer! Here is our conversation:

During the first season you had expressed a little disappointment that people weren't watching the show. But that really changed once it hit Netflix, and now you're really growing and moving. The show seems to be hitting a nice stride here in Season 3. Do you feel more confident about the show now that its finding its audience?

Marc Maron: I think it's the same with this season. Now, people that watched the first season have checked out the second season. And there is a whole new crew of people who binge-watched both seasons. I think there is some excitement about the new season. I'm excited about that.

You brought back a lot of the same directors from the first two seasons, right?

Marc Maron: Yes, a lot of the same writers, a lot of the same directors. Obviously the same lead actors. Why not? I like working with those guys, and we have a chemistry. There's a lot to be said for that.

The one episode that really stands out for me from Season 2 is the Amplifier episode. I'm not sure if that was a favorite of yours. But do you have an episode in this upcoming season that you feel really defines what the show is about, and is an example of the best things you have to offer an audience?

Marc Maron: I don't know...I think the opening episode of this season is pretty great. I think the second one is great. I think the one where my niece visits me is pretty amazing. We did a couple of trippy ones. The last couple are pretty raw, and pretty interesting. The episode with my ex-wife is pretty wild. I think every episode in general is very representative of the show. I think we really understand who Mark for the television is, what that world is like, and what he can do. And what we can do as writers to sort of push him out, into a story. I think most of the episodes are very indicative of the show.

When you say that it is more 'raw', what is an example of that? Do you feel you have more creative freedom in terms of being a little more raunchy? I just heard someone say the word 'fuck' on a show, and it took me back. I know it's cable, but we're still not used to seeing or hearing those kinds of things as an audience during prime time...

Marc Maron: For me it's not a language thing, but an emotional thing. What do the characters think? What can I say and not say? There is an episode where I interview my character's ex-wife, because she has written a book, and I have her on the pod cast. There is a lot of unresolved emotional stuff that I needed to work out. That's true in real life, though I never got the chance to talk to my ex-wife after we broke up. That just sort of happened, so I had to speculate emotionally about what that would be like. Also, there were flashbacks that remind me...These are highly charged emotional flashbacks, and it takes a lot for me to act, and they were kind of raw. In a vulnerable way. Not in an outlandish way, or a shocking way. I think they were emotionally jarring. I felt. There were a couple of the last episodes, where the character Maron is in a pretty bad predicament. In a lot of ways. You sort of act through that. It was a challenge to me. Because I'm not a trained actor. But, it was about taking risks with the character, and the emotions of the character. I'm just glad we have come to this place.

In speaking, you refer to 'Maron' as a character. Where do you draw the line between real life and the story elements of the show?

Marc Maron: The character is a written character. I feel the line is pretty defined for me. These are twenty-two minute TV episodes. They are highly scripted. We make a lot of decisions about where the stories are going. Most of them are directly relatable to my life. There are certain events, or moments that happen in a story that may have happened to me in real life. Most of the stories are fiction. So, the line is not that difficult to draw between me and the character.

I wanted to ask you about something I caught on Twitter. I may not have the whole story. But from what I gathered, you hired an actor to do three episodes, he shot two, and then bailed, even though you had an arc going that needed to be finished. What exactly happened there?

Marc Maron: There was an actor I brought in for a three-story arc? The guy that bailed? He wasn't a major character, he was only supposed to be in three episodes. I believe he knew that. But he took another job. Someone screwed up. He said it was his manager, but he made the choice ultimately. So, he bailed a few days before shooting. It was an important part, but it wasn't an essential part. We did scramble to rewrite the scene over the weekend. We had to do that because he chose to do another project, even though he knew he was supposed to do this. It was bad. It was very unprofessional.

Just hearing about it, it does sound like kind of a major deal though. If you have an arc planned out, and then an actor doesn't show up to finish that arc. But you have the other stuff shot. How did you go about reworking it to make it work for that third episode? I'm not sure how the character was being used.

Marc Maron: Like I said, I didn't think anyone was going to be emotionally invested in that character. He basically played a producer. For this story we are doing that revolves around an internet company. I basically get a talk show deal that is through something like Yahoo stream. We call it something different in the show. For one of the executives of the show, we brought him in to fill in for the other guy. I think we said something horrible happened to the main guy. I don't remember. I think we killed him off.

When I interviewed you for Season 1, I asked you a question about bringing in known actors like Judd Hirsch and Sally Kellerman to play your Mom and Dad, even though you have quite a few actors playing themselves. I thought it was a delicate balancing act to have that work, mixing known celebrities playing characters with people playing themselves. But what you said about the casting at the time made a lot of sense. That you find actors that will work in this world, who you are not thinking of as themselves. I'm wondering how you've continued to go about finding those perfect casting choices, with people who have to play a character in a world where real people still do exist.

Marc Maron: I don't know that people really have a problem with that. I understand that you might think it would be kind of an issue. But Judd Hirsch is always just an actor. In a way, I don't think anyone really knows Judd Hirsch, except for maybe his family and close friends. I have never heard that anyone is uncomfortable with that. Having people in the show playing themselves, and then having Judd Hirsch there as my father. I think we all know the score. You know?

Jessica Makinson who plays well as your ex-wife, but also exists in this story where most of the other characters are playing themselves?}

Marc Maron: Jessica Makinson. She plays my wife in the first season in one scene. We just got her back. She plays my wife very quickly. She isn't a known actress, but she works all the time. No one knows her as someone to know. So, that wasn't a problem. It makes sense. I think that once the world is established...If you watch The Larry Sanders Show, Jeffrey Tambor wasn't that well known...But he was playing Hank. You accepted all of those people on The Larry Sanders Show playing those characters. We suspend our disbelief if you are to engage in media occasionally. I think people get the conceit.

I don't mean to come off as a dolt, it's just interesting to me how it works for various shows, and it takes a good casting director to fill those roles.

Marc Maron: Yeah. I get what you are saying. I just don't think this is an issue.

I wanted to ask you about a specific show on the WTF podcast. I know you went and spoke with Tony Clifton in person. And there is this air of mystery surrounding the fact of whether or not Andy Kaufman is still alive. Being that up close and personal with that particular world, and that character...Do you think he is still alive? Because I'm not sure I came away with your definitive answer on that after listening to those shows.

Marc Maron: He's dead. People don't want to hear this. People think its mysterious, and fun and cute. And it keeps the mystery alive. It's all very exciting. Its a cultural thing that people like to do. Look, I'd be thrilled if he was still alive. I believe he is dead. Let's put it that way.

Did you come to that conclusion before some of the shows you did? Or did interviewing Bob Zmuda as he was in character drive that definitive point home for you?

Marc Maron: There is some mystery there for some people. There isn't for me. Before, there was an air of mystery. Of course there was. After...Look, I don't always know who Tony Clifton is. I do believe there is more than one person under that costume. I will put it that way.

So there are other people playing Tony Clifton besides Bob Zmuda?

Marc Maron: That's possible. Look, Bob Zmuda is a Raconteur. He's his own type of showman. He has created a great, compelling bit of storytelling. Sometimes stories aren't all true. Most stories aren't all true. Even stories people are telling about themselves aren't true. So I'm willing to give Mr. Bob Zmuda the benefit of the doubt. And, yes, I did interview Tony Clifton as a real person. I could see that, because it was all done in the spirit of Andy Kaufman. You have to do something to preserve the spirit of Andy Kaufman, just to fuck with people. You know what I mean?

I thought that show was very captivating. I was really glad that you did that show in that way...

Marc Maron: Yes, but its not like you were on the fence. You weren't having a hard time wrapping your brain around it.

No. I never thought he was alive, but you listen to that show you did, and you retain that mystery quite well yourself, as the interviewer. So I wanted to know what you thought, how you perceived the situation. Because just your show created this new air of mystery. I think he's dead, but after listening to those two shows...I'm like...Hmm...I don't know...

Marc Maron: Maybe that was the beauty of how those two guys worked together. Maybe that's exactly what they want you to think?

There's always that little bit of hope that someday it will happen. He'll come out as still alive, and it will blow everyone's mind.

Marc Maron: Yeah, that's what Andy Kaufman was about. He was about blowing people's minds.

I always love your guests line-up. Who do you have coming in this season?

Marc Maron: Elliott Gould played himself. Patton Oswalt played himself. Mary Lynn Rajskub played herself. I had Maria Bamford on as herself. I had C.M. Punk on, the wrestler. Some of the people that acted with me? Josh Brener is back as Kyle. Andy Kindler, Dave Anthony and Sally Kellerman are back. Judd Hirsch is back as my father. Jessica Makinson is back as my ex-wife. There are a few other characters. Alex Rocco comes in. There are other ones.

Last quick question. When a show manages to hit Season 3, that's when it really hits the sweet spot and takes off. It's also the point where people start wondering just how long they are going to do a show like this. Do you have a game plan? Do you know where you want to end?

Marc Maron: Well, hopefully we'll get more. We leave a pretty big cliffhanger at the end of this season. I'd like to be able to resolve that. We'll see what happens. I hope we get another one so that we don't leave poor Maron in the condition I left him in at the end of this season.

Yeah, it's kind of crazy to do a cliffhanger when you don't know if you're coming back. Sunny in Philadelphia, those guys said they never wanted to do a cliffhanger in the early years, just because of not knowing whether it would ever be resolved. You leave the fans hanging. It's a bold move.

Marc Maron: Here is the weird thing. The cultural memory is very short. I don't think anyone is going to spend their life wondering what happened to that character if it doesn't get resolved. There are a couple of people who might, but they have bigger problems.

I must have a pretty big problem then. Because it still bothers me how they left Southland off. I don't know if you ever saw that show, but John gets shot...Did he live, die? We don't know...That was a pretty brutal cliffhanger that never got resolved.

Marc Maron: And that still bothers you?

Yeah.

Marc Maron: I'm sorry to hear that, man. Maybe you should create an ending you can live with, and then put that in it's place.

What you're really thinking is that I need to get out of my shed more, and go find something else to do.

Marc Maron: I really hope you're not worrying about it on a daily basis. Hopefully you're not waking up thinking about how that cliffhanger never got resolved.

{bold|I was until the actor came out and gave his answer on what happened to the character. Now I'm good. I can go on living.

Marc Maron: There you go. You'll just have to accept that.

Tune into IFC this Thursday as Maron tries to take his life to the next level while facing down old demons. The all-new episode Ex-Pod airs tomorrow night! Don't miss it.

Cinemark Movie Club
B. Alan Orange