Watching HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher is like a glimpse into another world. Most of us, scratch that, some of us, understand this world: Very well educated and well read people get together in a studio and discuss the issues currently troubling our population. It’s not complicated, but it is complex and innovative considering the state of television today. But Real Time is not a news show, it is not a talk show, it is not an “anything” show. It is simply intelligent people speaking their minds with absolutely no censor. And it is the most worthwhile thing on tv right now (at least until season 7 of Curb your Enthusiasm starts).
Maher’s show is formatted like a mix of The Daly Show, The Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson) and The View (minus the clucking hens). He begins with a monologue which is almost always funny, yes, funny, and then has either a single guest on or a panel of people on to discuss current events. The people are usually involved in political media or journalism, or even just some politically charged people from the entertainment industry, but the one thing all of the guests on Real Time have in common is that they have a brain. Ashton Kutcher is by far the stupidest person I’ve ever seen on this show, and it’s not like he pulled a Kanye West or anything, he was just out of his league a little when the conversation turned towards American foreign policy. But hey, so was I. (Sidenote: Pulling a Kanye West now refers to completely embarrassing yourself out of stupidity).
Most of the guests Bill gets follow the lead of the host himself. Maher is one of the most laid back, casual, yet ambitious men on television. He works based on a principle that we see far too little of these days in our society: Logic. Bill Maher breaks down every situation from Obama’s stimulus package and proposed legalization of marijuana to the Octomom controversy and Brett Favre, and simply applies logic to the situation, then speaks his mind. He has no other agenda getting in his way other than logic and honesty. It’s rather refreshing.
One of the things Billy Boy is famous for is denouncing religion so publicly. He has offended millions of people with his views on how any organized religion is not only childish and cult-like, but downright dangerous and responsible for many of the world’s conflicts. He is so passionate about his anti-religious views, he even made a movie about it, Religulous, with HBO director Larry Charles (Borat, Entourage). Anyway, I digress. On Real Time, great, tense moments routinely arise because someone on the show will say something like “God Forbid another terrorist attack happens on American soil blah blah blah” and Bill will just kind of stop, acknowledge the fact the guy said “GOD” forbid, and make a wisecrack about how “Yeah, Santa Claus was really doing all he could to stop those planes from hitting the buildings” and the audience, who is most likely all atheist, laughs hysterically. You see Maher hates anything credited to religion and hates anyone putting any faith in anything other than human logic and what is testable. And he will tell his guests this time and time again, no matter who they are. The best is when he gets someone very liberal on the show who actually agrees with him (Sarah Silverman for example) and they really hit it off. Bill Maher told Sarah Silverman that he really admired an episode of The Sarah Silverman Show when she did a 9/11 spoof and had all these arab people falling out of buildings or something unclear like that. Silverman sat there for about 3 seconds silently, smiled, and then said “Well Bill I made it fun again!” She made 9/11 fun again. Only on Real Time I tell you. (The audience of course “ooooh’d”, but that was it. Everything goes on this show.) Check it out, she is actually HILARIOUS.
They then got to talking about how they once met at the Playboy Mansion and snuck out to the backyard to smoke a joint together. This is Bill Maher and Sarah Silverman we are talking about…at the Playboy Mansion…smoking marijuana cigarettes together….like, weird? Yes, but fascinating!!! And this is the kind of shit you get on Real Time on a weekly basis: A glimpse into how smart, famous, educated people live their lives. (Sidenote: Maher is a huge marijuana advocate, constantly talks about getting high, and the guests he has on constantly make fun of him for it and it provides amazing entertainment. This comforts the Dale for a variety of reasons). If Sarah Silverman and Bill Maher hangin out and smokin weed together isn’t intriguing enough for you, how about Mos Def and Salmon Rushdie hitting it off!
Once again, only on Real Time.
Type in Real Time on youtube and hours of entertainment AND education will ensue, I promise, no matter who the guest or panel is. Last week though, something interesting happened. The Jigga man, aka Jay-Z, walked onto Real Time and it became very clear very quickly that Maher had pledged his allegiance to RocNation years ago. He was quoting lyrics from Reasonable Doubt, the original Blueprint and telling Jay-Z how infatuated he was with his recording style of not writing anything down. But then, Bill told Jay he had a gift for him. Because Jay-Z does not write down any of his lyrics, Bill thought THIS would be a good gift (fast forward to 1:55). Enjoy this clip too, Maher asks Jay-Z great questions and gets him to speak on Kanye and many other people.
While Bill did kiss Jay-Z’s ass forty times over in that segment, the show remains awesome. I probably would have kissed Jay-Z’s ass too though. I mean come on, it’s Jay-Z, and the fact that Bill Maher is cool enough to at least know who’s cool, well, that’s cool with me.