A mainstay in the New York alternative comedy scene, with his own specials on HBO and Comedy Central, the sardonic storyteller has lots of chutzpah, challenging audiences to think rather than chasing the cheap laugh. At first, it's hard to discern whether Maron's tale of his lifelong spiritual journey is a genuine quest for enlightenment or merely a comic device to let him bitch about his neuroses. But the wild ride is so amusing that in the end it doesn't matter.
Maron's eclectic search for the meaning of life involved Beat culture, Hollywood, cocaine, Sam Kinison, international corporations, and finally Jerusalem -- a trip he claims was ordained by God, as was a directive to buy a Sony camcorder. He's at his best when riffing on the power of brand loyalty. Before settling into an uneasy acceptance of his true religion -- materialism -- Maron bares his soul: "My relationship with God was tenuous at best, but my relationship with the Philip Morris company and Marlboro cigarettes was really the core of my spirituality." In an attempt to quit smoking, he pays a visit to the cigarette company, but he's awed by the supremacy of the corporate machinery and leaves smoking filterless.
In Jerusalem Syndrome, Maron expands upon his show material. He does his best to translate his manic delivery -- he's been compared to Robin Williams -- onto paper, but he's best seen live. Regardless, the memoir is packed with intelligent, cutting observations. Though Maron no longer thinks he's the chosen one -- "the cure was essentially living life" -- he's still got plenty to say. His next show, tentatively named Coming Clean, is about sex, technology, marriage, and conspiracy.