The comedian knows well… that “real life” can be a real challenge: “If you are alive and awake, sadness is a fluctuating constant.” As Maron explained during a keynote address at a comedy festival in Montreal… humor is one of our greatest analgesics. Growing up, he felt that comics “were the only ones that could make it seem okay. They seemed to cut through bullshit and disarm fears and horror.” At certain key moments, Attempting Normal does so as well. For comics like Maron and his colleague Louis C.K., stand-up is not simply about making people laugh. It is about making people laugh by exposing one’s innermost vulnerability.
Maron’s greatest comedic successes, including his podcast and his self-titled IFC TV show, have come from speaking honestly and emotionally about his life. As C.K. put it in his epic two-part interview on WTF, a portion of which is included in this memoir: “I’ve always [thought] that your progress [came from] taking away more and more layers of your defenses away;” and “I started watching you humiliate yourself more on stage, which is a good thing.” This book reveals that more than ever, Maron’s defenses seem to be down. Despite his tendency for abrasiveness, Attempting Normal is filled with softie remarks like: “I felt my heart open in relief”; “there are beautiful things in the world if you look”; “sometimes you just can’t fight being in love.”