Review of Bill Maher's show in San Francisco
Remember Politically Incorrect? In spite of 18 Emmy nominations and four CableACE Awards, this show was cancelled for – what else – the host being politically incorrect. If you were a fan, you know Bill Maher, a brilliant and irreverent comedian with a sharp mind and a knack for connecting the (political) dots. In the aftermath of 9-1-1, when even the staunchest critics of the administration did not utter a word, Bill Maher “dared” to contradict the official proclamation that the terrorists were cowards. Response from Ari Fleisher, the president's spokesman: "Americans need to watch what they say." As Bill Maher puts it himself, he was “"Dixie Chicked first”.
“Curious Georges” of America are starving for intelligence and truth in the sea of dumbing mediocrity (the top George excluded) In this intellectual wasteland they want to hear what they themselves think, but can’t voice it for one reason or another; they want to see if anybody shares their views. "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central with some zingers is very popular, but it’s no match for "Real Time With Bill Maher" premiered in 2004. Too bad, it can be watched only by HBO subscribers. All the others had a chance to see Bill Maher live in San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall thanks to Another Planet Entertainment. (http://www.apeconcerts.com)
Dressed comfortably in a loose shirt and boasting a mane of gray hair, Maher looked relaxed on a San Francisco stage even in a posh theatre. He was in one of his favorite cities surrounded by the audience that would never boo him. It was a thinking man’s show: no props, not even faux-propaganda posters Maher himself created – just a folder with reminders of many topics he covers. Maher’s 90-minute monologue delivered what his fans expected – a witty satire, astute social commentary as well as a profound underlying message: don’t just laugh – do something! Richard Goldstein of The Village Voice said it best:” Though his peeves—the war on drugs, the war on sex, the war on men (a/k/a the threat to truth itself)—haven't changed, he's hooked them to a larger idea of what it means to dissent at a time of enforced consensus.”
Bill Maher is one of a handful of Americans who’s not afraid to speak his mind even if it’s offending his fellow compatriots (“the true axis of evil is the brilliance of our marketing and the stupidity of our people.”). He’s mocking not just politicians (“republicans fuck-up and send the PR to polish the turd”), stars or the media (“CNN looping Michael Jackson in his pajamas is not news, it’s a screen-saver”. “I'm sorry, but the local news is not the place for government propaganda. It's the place for car chases, kittens caught in trees and a meteorologist whose previous job was at Hooters).
There are no sacred cows for this outspoken satirist. He ridicules American culture of superficial values (“we’re unable to sort priorities - a naked tit galvanized the nation”), hypocrisy (“those who support the war should go first”) and outright idiocy (“this is America. Knowing nothing and choosing one of two options isn't a poll. It's an election.”) Even the language does not escape attention of this English major. “Global warming” sounds kind of nice; tax cuts to the rich: whatever “trickles down is yours”.
As expected, the stars of his diatribes were George Bush and republicans in general. New polls show total fiasco in many initiatives pushed by this administration. Security at the airports did not improve (“give the job to casinos”); abstinence pledge did not reduce the rate of STD and more girls in those programs choose oral and butt sex (“these kids did with their pledge what everybody does with contracts. They found loopholes. Two of them, to be exact”).
This devout 50-something bachelor is not exactly a feminist. A few liberated women will find some of Maher’s comments a bit offending. Nevertheless, he can get away with it because he paints a bigger picture. Even liberals are fair game for this sharp-tongued shooter:” I know you hear about gas prices over two dollars a gallon and it makes you nearly choke on your four-dollar latte”; “You can't wear a Che Guevara tee-shirt with your designer jeans unless you're trying to be ironic. One is a symbol for impoverished workers. The other was sewn by them. You want to support the poor people in Latin America? Buy more coke.”
In his HBO show Bill Maher comes up with a new set of “Rules” each week. ( For those without the subscription you can find the transcripts at http://www.hbo.com/billmaher/new_rules/ and peruse through The Rules from last year’s shows). Here are just a few pearls:
- On your watch (G.Bush), we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two Trade Centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans... yes, God does speak to you, and what he's saying is, "Take a hint."
- "We, the people" did not include women, blacks, gays or Indians. It took another 200 years to become "We, the Village People...”. Or, as Ben Franklin said at the signing, "Who are we forgetting?"
- there is nothing you can say to a real conservative to convince him abortion should ever be acceptable other than, "Your daughter is pregnant and the father is black”.
- Jennifer Aniston must start dating Osama bin Laden. Our government has spent four years and billions of dollars trying to find him. If we put the job in the hands of the real professionals, the paparazzi, "Osamifer" would be on the next cover of US Weekly.
It’s debatable whether Maher’s “outrageous” mockery or Jon Stewart’s more subdued “fake news” on Daily Show will “galvanize the nation” or alienate the mainstream middle-Americans who will see themselves in that non-flattering reflection. After all, they elected the president who wonders, "IS our children learning?” (No, they ISN’T!) and who, after proposing an alternative to the evolution, “renewed his vow to drive the terrorists straight over the edge of the earth”.
We laugh, we applaud and we go home. Bill Maher is not preaching nor is he offering any solutions, - he is a comedian and an entertainer. But if he makes us think for ourselves, forces us to look in the mirror and confront reality no matter how shocking and offending; if he stirs our desire to cut the strings of the puppet masters and find our way in the fog of misinformation, propaganda and triviality, then he’s done more than any democrat ever did to shake this sorry status quo.
The people in America who are most in favor of the Iraq war must now go there and fight it. The Army missed its recruiting goal by 42% (last April). More people joined the Michael Jackson Fan Club…going to Iraq to fulfill the glorious leader's vision would seem the least one could do…just think of it as a reality show: "Fear Factor: Shitting Your Pants Edition.", "Survivor: Sunni Triangle." Or maybe it's a video game, "Grand Theft Allah.".. .It's been over a year since they graduated, but neither of the Bush twins has been able to find work. Why don't they sign up? Do they hate America or just freedom in general?
hangovers only happen to people foolish enough to stop drinking
a gay pride parade isn't something to fear; it's something to laugh at
Now, I know what you're saying. You're saying that there's so many other things that you, as president, could involve yourself in...Please don't. I know, I know, there's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela, and eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote
Defenders of the war in Iraq must stop comparing it to the American Revolution…
the American Revolution was a home-grown rebellion fought with guerilla tactics against an occupying army of foreigners and mercenaries. Okay, that is exactly what's going on in Iraq. Oh, except for one thing: This time, WE'RE ENGLAND!…
Now, President Bush recently suggested that public schools should teach intelligent design alongside the theory of evolution. , (Yeah, leaving the Earth in the hands of two naked teenagers (Adam and Eve). That's a real intelligent design).
the "morals and values" folks want us to take time out of the school day for prayer and the Ten Commandments and abstinence training, and to learn at least two theories of evolution--the one agreed upon by every scientist in the world, and the one that involves naked ladies and snakes. Because, after all, evolution is quote, "just a theory." Then the President renewed his vow to drive the terrorists straight over the edge of the earth.
Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above the crack of your ass. And it translates to "beef with broccoli."
Jesus is not a candle. A company in South Dakota is selling candles with the scent of Jesus. You light one and your friends say, "Christ, what's that smell?!"… if Jesus had smelled so great, how come everybody was always offering to wash his feet?
"Tyler, mommy would really appreciate it if you didn't throw rocks at me." You know, moms and dads these days are like the Democratic Party: lame, spineless and not holding up their end of the equation. And kids are like the Republicans: drunk with power and out of control!
not everyone gets their morals from the same book. You go by the book that says slavery is okay but sex is wrong until after marriage, at which point it becomes a blessed sacrament between a husband and the wife who is withholding it.
People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy's chili. .Luckily, it was only a finger! If it was a whole hand, Congress would have voted to keep it alive.
a new eight-year study just released reveals that American teenagers who take virginity pledges wind up with just as many STD's as the other kids. …"Taking the pledge" also makes a teenage girl six times more likely to perform oral sex, and four times more likely to allow anal. Which leads me to an important question: where were these pledges when I was in high school?… armed with limited knowledge and believing that regular, vaginal intercourse to be either immaculate or filthy dirty - these kids did with their pledge what everybody does with contracts. They found loopholes. Two of them, to be exact.
New Rule: Stop calling the media "elite and liberal" and start calling them what they really are: "lazy." It came out this week that the Bush Administration has been producing its own news segments, complete with their own "correspondents" and sending them off to local news outlets who air them untouched. I'm sorry, but the local news is not the place for government propaganda. It's the place for car chases, kittens caught in trees and a meteorologist whose previous job was at Hooters.
there's what we pay lip service to, and then there's what we pay money for. And that is what we actually value. We could have good security at the airport. We know how to do it. Have you ever been to a casino?… You can't do math in your head in a casino--without being spotted, reported on videotape, hustled off the floor and buried in the desert by Joe Pesci!
there's nine billion of our dollars missing in Iraq. Not misspent. Lost. Nine billion. But in the age of Bush, anything that involves money is legal, and the only scandal is sex
movie sound is … really, really loud. Otherwise, I'll be able to think and .. realize I'm a college-educated adult watching a movie about a "spider-man."
politically, it's always been advantageous to divide people, to make America a place of warmongers versus wimps, elitists versus morons, gun nuts versus people with normal size penises. The only problem is, it's not true. Hollywood isn't your cesspool, America. It's your mirror.
A new survey finds that only half of America's highschoolers think newspapers should be allowed to publish without government approval. And almost one in five said Americans should be prohibited from expressing unpopular opinions. Hey, let me tell you little darlings something: this is my livelihood you're screwing with now! So either learn the Bill of Rights, or you don't deserve Social Security….the younger generation is supposed to rage against the machine, not for it. They're supposed to question authority, not question those who question authority. And what is so frightening here is that we are seeing the beginnings of the first post-9/11 generation, kids who first became aware of the news under an "Americans need to watch what they say" administration, kids who've been told that dissent is un-American, and therefore justifiably punished by fine, imprisonment or loss of your show on ABC.
President Bush once asked, "Is our children learning?" "No, they isn't!" And so a more appropriate question might be, "Is our teachers teaching?" In four years, you can teach a gorilla sign language. Is it too much to ask that in the same amount of time a teenager in America is taught what those crazy hippies who founded this country really had in mind?