With the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York City fast approaching, mainstream media outlets have already been prepping extensive coverage, tributes and special programming. And we, of course, doing what we do at Laughspin, are interested in what the comedy world will do to acknowledge the historical date. But 10 years ago, New York-based actress and filmmaker Jodi Lennon was already exploring that idea– and only days after the Twin Towers fell, leaving 3,000 people dead. She wanted to know: how were New York comedians going to deal with returning to work — telling jokes, making people laugh — in the shadow of such a horrifying reality? Specifically, she wanted to know how Marc Maron, known for his social and political commentary onstage and on radio (especially a decade ago), was going react.
To that end, Lennon, who was Maron’s neighbor in Astoria, Queens at the time, followed him around for a day, shooting 10 hours at his home, in his car, performing at the Comedy Cellar and more. The footage would eventually become the 18-and-a-half minute documentary The Voice of Something, which will have its first ever screening on Sept. 12 in New York. It wasn’t necessarily the plan to wait 10 years to organize and push it, but with the anniversary and Maron’s hugely elevated profile in the last few years, now seems the perfect time to release the film.
“I was a little nervous to see the footage now because I didn’t know if my response was appropriate at the time,” Maron tells me. “But it was my response and it was me. The film shows me trying to deal with what happened and address it onstage. I forgot how quickly we went back to work. It was a week after and we were going onstage.”
And as it turns out, a lot of people needed comedians to do just that– get back to work. “I think people were looking to him to be the voice of what was going on at the time and wanted to see how he was going to turn that into comedy,” Lennon tells me. “He was a political comic, so he was trying to hone his act but still be sensitive.” And it became a difficult balance to achieve. Maron says he had a tough time at the Cellar the weeks following the attack, because some of the club’s management didn’t take kindly to any material that was even slightly critical of the U.S.
And we’ll see all that in the documentary, which will be seen at UCB in New York on Sept. 12, the Bellhouse in Brooklyn on Sept. 19 (that night, Maron will also record his podcast WTF), The P.I.T. in New York on Sept. 27 and at UCB in Los Angeles on Oct. 4. Lennon tells me also there’s plans to bring the film to the Annoyance Theater in Chicago, which makes sense, since that’s where Lennon’s career began in comedy and improv. She would later star in the Comedy Central sketch series Exit 57 with the likes of Stephen Colbert, Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello.
And if that pedigree behind The Voice of Something isn’t impressive enough, Emmy-award winner Nick Mougis edited the project. Mougis has worked on MTV sketch show Human Giant, Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans and HBO’s Funny Or Die Presents… among many others.
While the film is being screened at the aforementioned select venues, Lennon is submitting The Voice to film and comedy festivals alike. To keep up with its progress and updated screening schedule, check out Lennon’s official site at jodilennon.com. For now, you should really check out the trailer. Enjoy!