Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Yank comic loves Canada, and vice versa

Former host of Politically Incorrect is master satirist of left, right alike


What: Bill Maher

Where: Royal Theatre

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

Tickets: Sold out

Rolling Stone magazine calls him one of the leading satirists of his generation. Certainly, political commentator/comedian Bill Maher seems fuelled by the same brand of thinkingman's volatility and bemusement that drove George Carlin and Lenny Bruce.

He's adored by some and detested by others. Victoria seems enamoured with the host of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher - his weekend show at the 1,440seat Royal Theatre is already sold out.

So who is this celebrated American provocateur who skewers Democrats with the same Swiftian zeal that drove him to describe Sarah Palin - repeatedly - with the rudest word in the English language?

We do know Cornell-educated Maher is an übersmart news junkie who never suffers fools. He supports legalizing marijuana and same-sex marriage. He's no fan of organized religion (see his 2008 comic documentary, Religulous).

He's a native New Yorker. His mom was a nurse; his dad was a network news editor. Maher is life-long bachelor. And his last name is pronounced "mar."

We suspect Saturday's show will be quite good.

Maher, 56, not only has political savvy; he also knows something about being a stand-up comic. He hosted a New York comedy club in the late '70s and performed stand-up on Johnny Carson's and David Letterman's shows.

To give you a wee sense of the man - whether you scored tickets to the show or not - we provide you with these Bill Maher infonuggets:

Planet of the Apes: Maher badly annoyed Republicans last month in a blog post by deeming their tactics "the rise of the Party of the Apes." This was, in part, a response to Republican congressman Allen West's suggestion that "78 to 81" Democrats in Congress are members of the Communist party.

Bill likes Canucks: Maher once told the Globe and Mail: "I love Canada and Canadians because they like me and we think alike.

- I think Canada has a more sophisticated populace. It's more liberal. They get me -"

In another interview he said: "America would be much better off if we would just adopt the [health care] system you have: You get sick, you go to the doctor, and you don't get a bill. The only thing Canada can learn from America is what not to do."

Bill gets in trouble: Maher famously courted controversy in 2002 for making post-9/11 comments that spurred ABC to drop his old show, Politically Incorrect. Maher, taking a devil's advocate position, suggested the terrorists weren't cowards compared to Americans "lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away."

Obama not exempt: Maher drew flak for his non-PC joking about President Barack Obama's indecisive leadership. He quipped the British Petroleum oil spill called for a "real black president" who shows up at a meeting with BP honchos and "lifts up his shirt where you can see the gun in his pants."

Not everyone got it, including the Washington Times, which called Maher a "not-so-funny comic."

Occupy Movement not exempt either:

Further proof that Maher takes aim at the left as well as the right: his comments about the Occupy Movement. He joked about the Occupy's so-called "guitarmy," which planned to leave today on a march from Philadelphia to New York - singing folk songs.

"Instead of organizing interstate hootenannies, maybe it's time for Occupy Wall Street to actually participate in the American political process. This means boring stuff like canvassing neighbourhoods, raising money, running candidates for office, manning phone banks and making a baby with John Edwards."

Deep thoughts: In Vanity Fair magazine, Maher took the so-called Proust questionnaire. Quizzed about his motto, he said: "Religion is bad, drugs are good." Asked how he'd like to die, Maher responded: "Surrounded by enemies, holding a grenade."