Bill Maher can arguably be called the most perceptive political satirist since Mark Twain. He is cheered by liberals, and sharply criticized by conservatives. And visa versa. He started in standup comedy in the early '80s, and after impressing veteran humorist Steve Allen, found himself on The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman. His penchant for socio-political humor led to his becoming host of Politically Incorrect in the early '90s. So successful was the show, it moved from Comedy Central to ABC. The latter network, however, parted ways with Maher after a comment about the 9/11 hijackers. "Staying in the airplane when it hits the building," he stated, "say what you want about it, it's not cowardly." Oddly, many conservatives concurred, but advertisers did not. Turning lemons into lemonade, Maher wound up on the less restrictive HBO, where he continues to host Real Time. Somewhat ironically, his audience was crashed in 2007 by 9/11 conspiracy theorists, a group Maher has consistently ridiculed. That group isn't alone, of course, as just about anyone is fair game, particularly if they exhibit hypocrisy. He has paradoxically described himself as libertarian and liberal, but as incongruous as that sounds, it makes sense when you hear his hilarious observations.
Sat., July 26, 8 p.m., 2008