AUSTIN — Audiences entering Esther’s Follies on Day 2 of South By Southwest’s comedy series were greeted not with a closed curtain and dim lights, but with Marc Maron sitting in a large plush easychair onstage. “I don’t believe in fourth walls,” he said. That might as well be the motto for Maron’s characteristically off-the-cuff WTF podcast, which taped yesterday to a packed house.
Joining Maron was legendary actor and comic Jeffrey Tambor, known best for his work as Hank Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show or Oscar and George Bluth on Arrested Development. And before you ask, no, he did not reveal when the new season and the movie will begin production.
The conversation was typically free-flowing, quick and raw. Maron and Tambor primarily discussed Tambor’s history as a theater actor, a career he pursued after moving past a speech impediment that – according to Tambor – made him sound like Gus in Cinderella (I don’t know about you, but Gus was always my favorite mouse – you go, Jeff). On occasion, the two ventured into more personal but esoteric territory, describing the banality of evil – a term coined by German political theorist Hannah Arendt – that inheres in concentration camps like Auschwitz, where Tambor recently discovered some of his relatives had been imprisoned. It was hilarious.
On to more serious topics! The Bob’s Burgers showcase, hosted by Eugene Mirman, brought in the comics who voice characters on the hit animated Fox show. The high point of his set was his presentation of collection of materials he recovered from his parents’ house from his childhood, which included a letter home from his high school about his academic performance (1.28 GPA, baby!) and a birthday card – or, in Mirman’s words, a murder card – for the death of Mormon church founder Joseph Smith. Man, if I had a dime for every time I’d seen one of those in the Hallmark store…
Kurt Braunohler, who will be lending his voice to a few episodes in the new season of Burgers, hit some high points with some voice memos he recorded in his sleep for his future self.
Larry Murphy took the stage next with a more performative art piece, affecting an anxious, fidgety comic performing stand-up for the first time. I was convinced – at least until he busted out a wicked bold impression of Christopher Walken as a babysitter. Would that be terrifying or awesome for a child? Who’s to say…
Dan Mintz hopped on next for a lower energy, awkward set of one-liners, which met with more subdued energy from the audience. The crowd went wild, though, when Kristen Schaal took the stage with an intense challenge: “Things are gonna get fucking serious.” Y’all, she was right. Her impression of her childhood doll was literally terrifying, but we stuck it out and dug it. And had nightmares. At least I did.