Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Marc Maron in conversation with Jason Segel: On discontent when things couldn't possibly be better

VIDEO: WTF with Marc Maron Podcast: Episode 623 - Jason Segel

Actor Jason Segel in conversation with Comedian Marc Maron discusses the persistent feeling of discontent even when things are going as good as they could be. Particularly poignant as Jason quietly battled alcoholism whilst seemingly hitting his stride in Hollywood. Similarly Marc Maron built a career as a Comic's comic who never found mainstream success. The early episodes of his now seminal WTF podcast highlighting his struggle with having close "famous" friends, craving recognition whilst having a perpetually peripheral experience of success. Over 300+ episodes it has tracked Marc's conversion from frustrated marginal genius to arguably the Godfather of modern Comedy, recently being the first to record a full podcast with a sitting American President.

Jason Segel describes the affinity he shared with author David Foster Wallace who he plays in his latest movie 'End of the Tour' (2015), as well as the interviewer he plays against David Lipsky as embodied by Jesse Eisenberg.
WTF with Marc Maron Podcast: Episode 623 - Jason Segel
SEGEL: The themes of the movie really resonated with me. Its a lot about what we're talking about, outside the comedy about actually being the person. What happens when things are going as well as they possibly can and you still feel the same? This movie ['The End of the Tour'] takes place over the last 4 days, its about David Foster Wallace. Its the last 4 days of the 'Infinite Jest' book tour, its called the voice of a generation, it came out and did as well it could do. He didn't feel better...
VIDEO: 'The End of the Tour' trailer (2015)

On what we're looking for
JESSE EISENBERG: (1h 06m 25s) That was the lens I saw it through, a guy talking to himself on the beginning end of a tunnel. Lipsky is looking up at David Foster Wallace saying "God it must be great to be you? You must feel great? You must feel terrific? What's it like to be so famous?" and David Foster Wallace looking back at him saying "Kid, be careful what you wish for. If you get to where I am you're not going to feel better
MARC MARON: And that's sad
SEGEL: Yeah its sad but its very real and I actually think that one of the reasons David Foster Wallace resonates with people is that he's a man who had the vocabulary to express something that we all feel and maybe are too scared to talk about openly
MARON: Which is? The existential loneliness that persists
SEGEL: Yeeeeah, you're promised by our culture that if you achieve X, Y or Z of if you obtain X, Y or Z or watch this marathon of 'Real Housewives' that you're going to feel better and it turns out that its not true and people are really operating on that assumption and get to that destination and find out its vacant
MARON: But its rare that a person can investigate that loneliness like he did, sadly most people percolate along with a mild feeling of dissatisfaction and anxiety that they can't pinpoint but he decided to explore the underpinnings of existence in relation to these expectations and the onslaught of sensations available 
On Life imitating art
MARC MARON: (1h) ... This character, how close to your experience was it?
JASON SEGEL: At this point in my life, it felt like kismet... I had gotten sober 2 and a half years ago. I'm a year and a half sober at that point, my TV show was coming to an end and I was in a real moment of "What do I do now?". There's a line in the movie that is kinda verbatim from what David Foster Wallace said in this interview - "I have to face the reality now of being 34 years old alone in a room with a piece of paper" and that's what I felt at this point. My safety net was gone. The fact I had a financial safety net didn't really apply to what I felt.
MARON: It doesn't, does it?
SEGEL: No, of course not. Well not "of course not". I suppose from looking outside of it you would think "Of course it does".
MARON: It actually makes it [worse], for a lot of people "What are you complaining about?". But the truth of the matter is, the sad thing when you're in that position is that you do have that and you have these feelings and they're almost compounded. Then you're like "WTF is wrong with me? I can eat wherever I want and I can buy that car if I want to".
SEGEL: This is what the movie is to me, in my opinion. What the movie is, its basically a transcript of this interview that a guy called David Lipsky did with David Foster Wallace where 'Rolling Stone' sent him out to spend the last 4 days of the book tour with him.
MARON: What I noticed about this movie in retrospect is, who is this movie really about?...
SEGEL: I actually think its about a feeling that if you treat yourself (and listen to a speech that David Foster Wallace gave called 'This is Water', its a Kenyon Commencement Speech). It is addressing the exact thing we're talking about in this interview which is Where do you place your value and what is going to address this itch that we keep trying to scratch that's telling us we're not there? That we're not enough. If its success, you'll never be successful enough. If its money, you'll never have enough money. If its talent, you'll never be adored enough. You have to find something else and I just really related to that.
We all go through it no matter how big you are
SEGEL: (1h 17m 30s) No matter how well you're doing, you're going to have feelings about not being enough. You're going to have feelings of dissatisfaction and its tough to find people to talk about that with if, People are all the same if you basically sound like you're whining.
MARON: Or you're seen as the guy who should have everything. You have to have real friends is basically what it is.
SEGEL: Its codified in myth since the beginning of time, this is a Universal feeling. The King feels the same way
MARON: And who's going to feel bad for the king? F*ck that guy. He's the King!