At the start of Tickets Still Available, Marc Maron opines about how he’s tired of comedy albums that are simply funny, that there should exist at least one that makes listeners uncomfortable and sad. Midway through the hour-long disc, you realize he was only half kidding.
Unless you’re in a Prozac haze when you listen to Tickets, you will feel, at the very least, brief flashes of sadness. All good pop music albums have giant hooks, big beats and spirited refrains. Good comedy albums usually have one requisite: they need to be funny. Pop albums that become great, however, take you on a trip where expressions change and emotions are dynamic. If we apply that logic to comedy albums — and we should — then Tickets is a great comedy album.
Beyond it being evenly hilarious throughout, Tickets gives listeners a raw view inside Maron, a sensitive, liberal-minded guy who’s into politics but maybe even more interested in examining the interactions between his loved ones.
Maron, who recently rose to prominence — based mostly on his political views — as the former co-host of Air America’s Morning Sedition and is current hosting The Marc Maron Show on the network, does pepper politics throughout this set. But it’s his more personal material — some about his wife and his manic-depressive father — that is most funny and endearing.
Maron illustrates with a story that has his Dad calling him at 3 a.m. to tell him about how he wants to open a theme park called Maron World. Maron promises his father he’ll work there but only if he gets to run the “bipolar coaster.” “Call me when you’re crying,” Maron says. “I love you. Don’t kill yourself.”
His intellectually zany approach to nontraditional topics works so well that when he does approach the typical stand-up fare — marital quandaries, for one — it’s actually a welcomed respite from otherwise intense themes. He deftly describes the anatomy of a fight between man and wife, noting that these battles really exist because there’s a 7-year-old trapped inside of us just crying for our mommies.
“If you’re lucky right at the right moment,” Maron says, “the adult inside you will grab hold of that 7-year-old and go, ‘Shut the fuck up. Don’t you realize she can just take her vagina and leave? So start crying, you little fucker and make it good. We don’t want to lose this one.’”
Throughout Tickets, Maron is smart without being pretentious, insecure without being whiny and relates well to us all without insulting our intelligence. The combination makes this disc worthy of repeated plays.