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Sunday
Sep112011

INSIDE WITH: JODI LENNON, COMEDIAN & FILMMAKER

Marc Maron holding up a post-Sept. 11 newspaper | Photo courtesy of Jodi Lennon

By: Keith Huang

Tonight comedian and filmmaker Jodi Lennon will debut her mini-documentary "The Voice of Something," a 10-year video project that was spawned in the aftermath of Sept. 11. The 18-minute video documentary follows standup comic Marc Maron, Lennon's neighbor in Astoria, Queens, at the time, over the course of a single day (Sept. 19, 2001), as he prepares to perform a standup set at the Comedy Cellar in Manhattan. I spoke to Jodi briefly about the mini-documentary, and here's what she said:

I know you shot a lot of hours of footage. Are you happy with how it was edited together?
Nick Moujis was the editor and he did an awesome job. We worked really hard on it, and I can walk away saying I am pleased with how it was edited together.

Why did you decide to keep it to an 18-minute piece?
I feel like 18 minutes was the right amount of time because it's all from one day. And I feel like less is more. Also, this way we can show it in more outlets. And we can make a show out of it in an hour.

Did Marc remember most of that day?
He definitely remembered it. And because we had spent 10 hours together -- have you ever spent 10 hours with someone?

Not lately.
Yeah, it was like a grown-up slumber party but during the day. You spend all this time together. It was a bonding experience. So he definitely remembered it, and he had seen it because I had edited it together 10 years ago as a 5-minute version. So I asked if I could revisit it and re-edit it and he said yes. But when I showed him this newer version, I wanted to make sure he approved of it. I wasn't going to show something he wasn't comfortable with.

Was there anything that he wasn't okay with initially?
No, he signed off on it. I sent him the 18-minute version and kept my fingers crossed because we had worked really hard on it, and thankfully he just said, "Yeah, go for it," which is really nice because ... I think I would feel weird if it was me. If anything, he felt like he looked weird. You know, it's different facial hair and different glasses.


What's the context of the day of the taping (Sept. 19)?

Marc had done two days of shows before that. So he was already going back on stage and was still trying to figure out what his act was. But I had, in general, been following people's creative processes -- artists and actors -- before September 11. And it just so happened I knew him and I was wondering what it was going to be like for him to go back on stage.

Was there any discussion about what would happen to your footage if the standup show didn't go well?
Well, you'll see. It was still a very odd audience. I think Marc and I were open to seeing what the process was like. I think it's really just about him really articulating his voice. He was a political standup and it was an intense time. And it was about him not wanting to appear insensitive but at the same time having the freedom to vocalize what he was thinking and feeling comedically. So it was complicated. It was that struggle of "What am I trying to say, and how am I going to say it?"

What's your recollection of the comedy scene right after Sept. 11?
That whole week right before I saw Marc, we all communed. A ton of friends in the comedy scene just drank a lot. We were definitely getting together in different bars in the city because you just wanted to see your friends. It was like wanting to be with your family. And not a lot of people were performing immediately after, so that was a big part of it. And then I felt like we all just wanted to be normal as soon as possible. The drinking got old, we were all confused and the city was raw. And I think that was another part of Marc's struggle. He was -- and is -- a standup. That's his job. He had to get back to work. It's weirder than most jobs.

So why did you decide to bring the video back? To coincide with the 10-year anniversary?
You know how it is, I made lots of things and I just didn't get back to it. But this, because of WTF -- and I've listened to WTF a lot -- I realized that this footage of Marc's voice is still quite similar to how it is now. And it's shocking the themes that are still so strong with him. What he talks about now on WTF existed 10 years ago. He's very consistent.

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