Political comedy fans rejoice. Veteran stand-up Bill Maher will be visiting Houston for a one-night affair at the Bayou Music Center on Sunday, May 3. The critically acclaimed but polarizing satirist is known to most for his work as host of the 11-time Emmy nominated Real Time with Bill Maher, which has aired on HBO since 2003. Before that, Maher hosted the cancelled-to-soon ABC roundtable program Politically Incorrect, which ended in 2002.
When asked why it's been years since Maher's last stop in Houston, the sharp-tongued comic replies: "You gotta wait. Like a farmer, you gotta let the field lie fallow for a while before planting new crops. Because comedy is sort of the opposite of music," Maher says. "When I see The Rolling Stones are going back on tour, [I think] well, they'd better play 'Satisfaction'. And you know they've gotta be sick of playing Satisfaction, but with music, you have got to play the oldies. Comedy is the exact opposite."
Always comfortable behind the mike, Maher has actively kept up his stand-up tour schedule and has recorded ten specials for HBO including 2007's The Decider, 2010's But I'm Not Wrong and his most recent Live from DC, which earned HBO its highest rated comedy special in five years.
While the expected constant joke turnover might appear stressful to some, Maher seems to find it liberating. "I'm comedy fan. And when I see [a comic], I want to see the NEW. You know, the great thing about the comedy I do is that it's always changing. It's a lot harder if you're just an observation comedian, like most comedians are. Talking about evergreen everyday subjects [is a challenge]," Maher admits. "But I'm talking out of a newspaper. My shit changes all the time!"
As always for Maher, politics remains target No. 1. "Just the Republican Party alone gives you a motherload of comedy material, on almost a weekly basis. And they're constantly coming up with new crazy people to make fun of." The 59-year-old funny man declares. "[The Republican Party] has a very deep douchebag bench. When George Bush goes away, a Miss Sarah Palin stands up. She goes away and up comes Ted Cruz. It's never ending with these people."
While Maher may be critical of the politicians themselves, he's just as scathing of the electoral process. "During an election year, there's just more horse race stuff to follow. People love a contest, that's just how we're wired. But [these days] we live in a country where the race almost never ends," the stand-up winces, pointing to the four already announced Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. "My God! Four candidates and we're only in April of the year before the election. Other countries in the world don't do it like this. [They have] elections that last like six weeks. This is uniquely and crazily American."
Never one to shy away from a jab, Maher sums up the four would-be presidents succinctly. On Paul, "He has a very strong base. But that base is 40-year-old men who live at their mom's house." On Rubio, "He's got honesty, intelligence and integrity issues. What experts call the Full-Palin" On Clinton, "[She] has the inevitability label stuck on her... but, you know, look what happened in 2008. Everyone thought it was gonna be Hillary, but then the American public said, 'No, we found somebody newer and younger... just like her husband," Maher quips with a laugh, "I'm kidding!"
But on the subject of controversial Cruz, Maher is straight-faced. "You just have to remember that [Ted Cruz] is the worst. Of all the people who could possibly be president, he is the worst. He is the slimiest, he is the lowest, [and that's because] you know he's not really that stupid. He just plays a stupid person." Maher cites Cruz's degrees from Harvard and Stanford as proof of the senator's intellect, but still feels the candidate "sounds like your right wing uncle who forwards emails [with pictures of] Obama as a monkey. You know those kind of emails with the cartoons?" Maher sums up his distaste of the senator thusly, "He is the thinking man's creep"
Always controversial, always hilarious. Catch the one-of-a-kind Bill Maher at Bayou Music Center on Sunday, May 3.