Fred Willard on WTF with Marc Maron
March 21, 2012 Leave a comment
One of the main reasons I keep up with Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast is that, when he interviews fellow comedians, I get a much better sense of how they think. Other shows can give me their biographies or allow them to do a routine or two, but with Maron doing his thing, I tend to get a sense of how they function, as both people and performers. That was definitely the case with his recently released interview with Fred Willard.
I may have had a vague sense of Willard in the 1970s and 80s with his TV appearances on shows such as Fernwood 2 Night (1977), but it was his work with the Christopher Guest gang that made the biggest impact. I mean, you saw the announcing job he did for the dog contests in Best in Show (2000), right?
That one competes closely with Willard’s work in A Mighty Wind (2003). In two minutes, Willard brilliant sums up and skewers the sitcoms of the 1970s as well as the decline of the folk craze.
And as Maron says of this character,
There was a genius in the haircut.
Willard specializes in playing characters that combine the ridiculous with the oblivious, but always with a sense of a sweetness at the core. That sweetness and likability comes across big time in the interview. Unlike his characters, Willard seems to have a terrific sense of the idiocy around the world and inside himself, but like his characters, Willard has a befuddled air. He loses his way in the conversation, talks about working with Tim and Eric and having no idea what was going on, and acts as if he just stumbled into show business, when he has been working since the ’60s.
In fact, here’s Willard in his comedy troupe The Ace Trucking Comedy, working with Tom Jones in 1969. For die-hard fans only! Willard plays a gay choreographer and pretty much everything in this clip is dated. Except for the magnificence that is Tom Jones, of course.
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