COMEDY IS HARD, WATCHING COMEDY IS HARDER
Amy Schumer is funny. I've seen her stand-up, I've seen her roast celebrities. She knows what she's doing, no problems there.
Marc Maron is a slightly different story, not because he doesn't know what he's doing (he does) but because my interest in him is less about the jokes and more about his self-loathing, his anger, his envy. Like a lot of people, I got engrossed in his podcast. He talks to comedians and musicians and always figures out a way to make it about himself. He doesn't shy away from honesty and real emotions, which is what makes the episodes so memorable.
Sometimes it's a train wreck, but he knows when he's overreacting or screwing up and he apologizes for it, tries to make it right.
I've watched three episodes of their respective television shows (Inside Amy Schumer on Comedy Central and Maron on IFC) and while I want to like both of them equally, I really dig Maron and don't much care for Schumer's show.
Inside Amy Schumer is hit and miss, a hodgepodge of skits, stand-up, and Schumer interviewing random people on the street. Watching her interact with people is endlessly entertaining, whereas the skits start well and tend to fizzle out.
Portlandia is a skit show, and that works most of the time. So does Comedy Bang!Bang! I imagine Schumer was offered any show she wanted and she didn't want to get locked into playing herself.
Maron's show is much more conventional, a bit like Curb Your Enthusiasm with Maron playing a variation of his real self. It's not new, it's not groundbreaking, but it works for me.
Fans of Maron's podcast know about his relationship with his father and casting Judd Hirsch as Maron's angry, feisty pop (introduced in the third episode), was a masterstroke. There's also a steady stream of celebrity cameos (Dave Foley, Denis Leary, Jeff Garlin, Illeana Douglas).
I want the Schumer show to be successful, I want it to gel. Maron may be playing it safe, but at least it's fully formed.