To Laugh Again

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, club owners told comedian Marc Maron to lay off the topic. But the premiere alternative comic just couldn’t let it alone.

"The TV spin is all just white noise," says the 38-year-old performer, who’ll riff on the attacks on Nov. 5 at the Beverly Hills Library and sign copies of his memoir, "The Jerusalem Syndrome," on Nov. 6 at Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. "The comic’s job is to push the harder questions, while being respectful of the dead."

Since then, Maron has noted that in his Pakistani Queens neighborhood, displaying a flag "can mean patriotic unity, or it can mean, ‘Please don’t hit me.’" He’s wondered if it’s "OK to hate the president again."

Maron has been edgy practically since his birth on the night of Kol Nidre, 1963. He was so obnoxious at his Albuquerque, N.M., Hebrew school that he made his teachers cry. Later, he set off on a spiritual quest that included a pilgrimage to the grave of Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac, and coming out as Jewish in front of an anti-Semitic crowd in North Carolina. "The great thing about being Jewish is that we got all the money … and we run the media," he said. "I’m surprised I have time to do this gig."

Maron first chronicled his life journey in the monologue version of "Jerusalem Syndrome," inspired by symptoms of the psychological syndrome (believing God will address you in Israel) he says he exhibited during a 1998 trek to the Holy Land. But he found the most satisfying answers to his spiritual questions while making his ailing childhood rabbi laugh at a temple benefit. "It filled me with the heat of joy to hear that I … [had] performed that mitzvah," he says.

To make reservations for Maron’s free Nov. 5 performance, which he’ll share with singing social satirist Roy Zimmerman, call (310) 471-3979. For book signing information call (310) 659-3110.