Comedy

Heckle at your own risk: Bill Maher takes on Trump supporters and Hillary bashers

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Photo: David Becker
Jason Harris

Three and a half stars

Bill Maher October 24, the Pearl.

Comedy is the only art form where certain audience members think that by disrupting the performance, they’re somehow adding to the show. It’s a weird form of entitlement that usually drags things down for everyone. But in the case of Bill Maher, watching him spar with haters Friday night at the Pearl was just as exciting as hearing him deliver his best lines.

Maher is likely the most famous comedian to represent liberals. At a time when the political left seemed not to have a voice that was both confrontational and funny, he stepped up. Between Politically Incorrect and Real Time, the New Jersey-bred comic has shared his views on just about everything for the past two decades. So it’s a wonder anyone would pay money to see him and not realize the type of incendiary comedy headed their way.

On the Republican party: “I never said all Republicans are racist, because they’re not. But if you are a racist and you’re looking for a party ...”

On getting out of the Middle East: “America has got to get over this idea that we can bring democracy to the Middle East if we just kill every last one of them. We have different gods. They have Allah. We have money.”

On Muslims versus Catholics: “Mecca—that’s their Vatican City, and they cut the heads off of homosexuals in the town square. They don’t do that at the Vatican. Who would run the Vatican?”

While Maher stayed consistently in the groove, he was just as consistently interrupted by the crowd: a Hillary Clinton basher, the obligatory Trump supporters, the good Christian lady and, about as often, those who actually agreed with him. Maybe they thought they were part of the night’s panel.

Whatever the case, Maher was ready for them. A critique of his talk-show hosting has been that he often interrupts guests to make his own points. Onstage that’s a great advantage. It provided the show with an organic feel, with a bit more edge. He brought the same ruthless attitude to his hecklers as he did to his best jibes. Maher asked a man who called Hillary Clinton a corporate whore what he does for a living. “I’m retired,” he responded, to which the comedian countered, “You look a little young to be retired. What, do you have daddy’s money?”

Maher might make most of his own money on TV these days, but it’s clear he still loves stand-up comedy. Audience participation and all.

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