To call Bill Maher “politically incorrect” would be an understatement. In fact, the Real Time with Bill Maher host wears the title like a badge of honor. In his 11th HBO stand-up special, Live From Oklahoma, Maher pushes boundaries to new limits, exploring a few “new rules” and some familiar ones tackled on his long running HBO talk show.
He targets the hot button issues found in current events, including the Trump administration, the legalization of marijuana, and the MeToo movement. Even though he attacks these topics with his usual feral fervor to a receptive Tulsa audience, he delivers an engaging performance that would also leave his political opposition laughing hysterically in the aisles.
Maher, a self-professed atheist, is at his best when tackling the touchy topic of religion. He destroys what he considers the absurdity of tolerance for intolerance found in Islam, the stupidity of the left’s need for political correctness in support of the religion, and the supposed piousness of Christian politicians. And he does so in a way that leaves even the most faithful religiosos nodding in agreement.
In fact, it’s almost impossible not to gravitate towards Maher’s unabashed honesty, his proclivity for inducing independent thought in his audience, and his penchant for leaving people more informed by the end of his show than they were at its start.
That is probably the most charming aspect of Maher’s comedy. He speaks and acts like a college lecturer that his fellow faculty despises because he goes against the grain. He doesn’t tow any lines and would rather give his students a curriculum that makes them better members of society than just graduate them unprepared for the lives ahead.
The one huge strike against Live From Oklahoma is the same criticsm he regularly receives from the right. While it’s the stalwart nature of his political beliefs that drives him to success, the unwavering tone of his observations leaves little room to include those on the opposite side of the aisle. Yes, he mentions during his performance that there are “Trump supporters” in attendance, which shows that there are many reasonable right-wingers who would laugh and cheer Maher’s left-leaning arguments.
However, his unrelenting assault of the right wing and those Maher sees as the enemy can leave many who would naturally agree with his ideas—political party affiliation be damned—in a defensive mode. And when you are trying to win over those who don’t agree with you, vilifying them in the eyes of those who support you makes for an overall hard sell for bi-partisan harmony.
Yet, one can conclude that is what Maher does: he electrifies issues into a kinetic ball of fury and then hurls it at the audience to get their reaction, which then recharges his next polarizing projectile of intellectual energy.
Ultimately, though, Maher wants you to not only agree with him but to convert to his own cult of political personality. With an offering like Live In Oklahoma, he makes a compelling argument for those on the other side of the fence to hop over and join the party.
Bill Maher’s Live In Oklahoma is available now in stores via Comedy Dynamics.
— HBO (@HBO) June 15, 2018