1. Maron and Wilson were both attached to a failed sitcom pilot. In 2002, Janeane Garofalo was attached to a sitcom, "Slice O'Life," which would have found her playing a producer of cheery human-interest stories on a TV newsmagazine. (Presumably, much of the humor would derive from the incongruity of someone with Garofalo's demeanor consigned to a job devoted to soft news segments.) Maron and Wilson were both members of the supporting cast — Wilson as a wacky sound guy, and Maron as Garofalo's character's assistant.
Maron: It was a pretty big cast, and we did that table read...and it went, I thought, well....
Wilson: It went terrible. Dude, your barometer for comedy is completely off. I don't know what you're thinking.
Maron: Hm. It went bad?
Wilson: It was terrible!
Sometime after this maybe good, maybe terrible table read, the project was shelved, possibly because of Garofalo's vociferous opposition to the Iraq war.
2. On his way to a "Slice O'Life" meeting, Wilson heard about the American adaptation of "The Office." "And I was such a huge fan of the British show, I was kind of bummed out. I was like, 'Aw, I would much rather do that than this Janeane Garofalo thing.' Which I liked, but I had a teeny tiny part."
3. Wilson almost starred in a sitcom based on his Lower East Side clown troupe. Wilson and Maron were both performing in New York in the mid-'90s, so their paths crossed on occasion, including when Wilson — a drama student who formally trained at NYU — was a member of The New Bozena, a "post-modern clown" troupe (or, as Wilson describes it to Maron, "a really f---ed-up Pee-wee Herman" or "slacker vaudeville on acid") that also included David Costabile, a.k.a. Gale on "Breaking Bad." The troupe came to Los Angeles to star together in a TV series based on the stage show, which didn't work out. As Wilson tells it:
We signed with 3Arts, and we actually got a TV deal at 20th [Century Fox Studios], and we wrote a really terrible comedy pilot, and we did a pilot presentation for Fox, that is terrible....It was about these weird, almost nonverbal clowns — a lot of physical comedy — they tried to turn it into 'ALF.' So they tried to take these weird, postmodern clowns and like [have them] live with a typical family. Like they're living in the closet.
The group also had interest from USA for them to do "a weirder single-camera" comedy: "But there was a vote taken in the group, and I was the dissenting voice in the group, and the group wanted to go with the big money." Which Wilson now has, thanks to "The Office," so I guess he won in the end.
- Rainn Wilson
- Marc Maron