It was another packed house at the Kentucky Center for the Arts Saturday night as Bill Maher brought his witty criticisms to Louisville.
Cramped may be a better word to describe the atmosphere in Whitney Hall as 2,000 adult-sized people squeezed their way into pint-sized seats. With barely room to breathe, audience members got to know their seatmates intimately, as there is no way, in this vast theatre, to sit comfortably next to one’s companion, let alone the perfect stranger on the other side, mere millimeters away.
But, the physical discomfort nor the mysterious 12-minute delayed start didn’t seem to stifle the energy in the auditorium. As one audience member put it before the show, “This is going to be heaven. It’s like being in a roomful of your own kind.”
While remarks like that seem to be the close-minded, flock-of-sheep mentality that Maher rallies against, it was obvious that this particular audience member had not looked around the room. A wide spectrum of people were in the audience; primarily Caucasian, but ranging in age, gender, social status, and every other individuality that can be reasonably stereotyped by physical appearance.
The physical discomfort of the audience did not translate to Bill Maher, as he casually strolled onto the bare stage, save for a microphone, stool, and music stand, and began disparaging the antics of politicians, government, and intelligence-challenged people.
Greeted by an already standing crowd, Maher quipped, “Thank you, but I can’t take credit for this. I know people come to my shows already high.”
And so began the litany of sharply barbed and profane pans on Republicans, Democrats, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, religion, and Maher himself.
He quipped, “Sarah Palin had a show on The Learning Channel. That would be like me having a show on the Christian Broadcast Network.”
Regardless of political affiliation (or lack thereof), one must concede that, in order to make cracks on such a wide variety of people in such specific ways, Maher stands before his crowd well-read, intelligent, and with a wicked-sharp mind.
Or does he? Quite possibly the most disappointing aspect of the whole evening was the fact that Maher used a notebook on stage—hence the need for the music stand—and referenced it frequently during his 90-minute set.
It is hard to believe that such a highly successful person can’t keep track of where he is in his own show. Actors who play Hamlet memorize nearly 1500 lines of Shakespeare; Maher can’t seem to memorize the order of a few jokes. Even the up-and-comers at the local Comedy Caravan have their material memorized.
Despite the heavy use of notes, Maher kept his audience laughing, applauding, and thinking all evening.
From disparaging the entitlement attitude of citizens, “Americans are star-spangled perfect coming out of the womb” to panning the Republican party for their choice in Mitt Romney, “They picked him for his vague resemblance to Brooke Shields,” to the inanity of social media, “Where would we be without Facebook? We’d just be left to wonder what that passing acquaintance from high school had for lunch,” no individual or group was safe.
Maher even took a stab at educators when, after addressing the obesity rates and test scores of children, he quipped, “How fat and dumb do our kids have to be before teachers stop having sex with them?”
For all the feathers he ruffles, and all the people he offends, Maher is a staunch supporter of free speech, and of individual personal differences.
In the midst of his rants, Maher said, “We need people with ideological differences,” and regarding his atheistic view of life, “Be as good of a person as you can, for the sake of it.”
Bill Maher continues his stand-up tour throughout the summer. He can be seen on HBO’s Real Time Friday nights at 10pm.
Image: Courtesy BillMaher.com