The Jerusalem Syndrome: My Life as a Reluctant Messiah
by Marc Maron
(Broadway Books, 2001, 192 pages)
Marc Maron hosts a popular podcast where he interviews comedians, actors, directors, musicians, and writers. Before he was doing that, he was performing a one man show (which became this book) in which he obsessed over an inexplicable sense that he was unique, chosen, destined to…well he doesn’t know quite what. Sometimes this sense of calling was drug induced, sometimes not. Maron draws out the pseudo-religious qualities of his hallucinations (drug induced and otherwise), his inexplicable brand loyalties, and his fascination with his Jewish heritage. The story culminates with a trip to Jerusalem, where he is sure that this bizarre sense of calling will find some kind of fulfillment.
The book covers Maron’s childhood, his college years, his early days in stand-up (including his tumultuous relationship with the boisterous comedian Sam Kinison), and his disappointing years as a road comic. Since he has written this book, Maron has found his niche as an interviewer and thoughtful – though still angry – comedian. I enjoyed this one an awful lot, though it was a bit anti-climactic. While Maron’s rants are usually hilarious and insightful, it seemed that he was trying to get to some sort of grand revelation or epiphany that never quite manifested itself. It’s not clear to me how he comes to terms with his messianic delusions, his Jerusalem Syndrome, but by the end he seems to feel that it has been exorcised. Despite these structural flaws, anyone with an interest in Maron’s podcast or stand-up comedy should enjoy this one.