In a spider-ridden Los Angeles garage, surrounded by half-read self-help books and the whiff of stale cat's-pee, a stand-up comedian called Marc Maron has for the past two years been taking listeners on a twice-weekly journey behind the red velvet curtains of his profession.
This makeshift domestic studio is the home of WTF, a brilliant podcast which has recently turned Maron into a cult figure. It is where he records the vast majority of a highly-compelling celebrity interviews which are now something close to required listening among comedy nerds and show-business power-brokers alike.
Roughly a quarter of a million listeners now download each episode of hour-and-a-bit-long show, a statistic which now sees it troubling the iTunes top 10 podcasts. But this success story has done little to blunt either Maron's natural melancholia, or the remarkable intensity with which he digs under the skin of his guests.
Each WTF begins with a comic monologue which trawls through Maron's various obsessions – cats, broken relationships and his battles with drugs and alcohol are staples – in a free-rolling manner that intersperses anger and narcissism with moments of hilarity before the long interview.
The list of Maron's subjects reads like a Who's Who of American comedy, including Judd Apatow, Conan O'Brien, Robin Williams, Sandra Bernhard, Demetri Martin, Patton Oswalt, and Chris Rock. He has also interviewed actors (Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston) and the occasional Brit (Stewart Lee).