Standup Guy—Bill Maher

Bill Maher brings his acerbic political humor to the State

Bill Maher’s contrarian talk shows have been a cable-TV staple for so long (Politically Incorrect debuted in 1993; Real Time in 2002), it’s easy to forget that he cut his teeth on standup—Comedy Central once ranked him No. 38 on its all-time list. Appearing at the State Theatre this month, he’s staying true to his roots. “I do it strictly for the time onstage—that’s the joy of it,” Maher says. “And that’s the whole purpose of dragging my ass around the country.”

On TV, Maher is blunt-spoken on his support of same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization, and science over religion—and happy to debate those who disagree. When he tours, he says that he makes it a practice to “study up” on the local political landscape before he visits. Some thoughts:

• On our Arts Legacy Amendment: “I do consider myself loosely an artist, but I’ve never been a fan of government getting involved in funding.” Still, he adds that, on the federal level, arts spending is “something you could not find with a jeweler’s eye.”

• On the federal budget: “Money goes to old people and aircraft carriers, and that’s OK with me. The old people, because they’re [expletive] old.”    

• On the 2016 presidential race: “I’d bet my own money” on Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. On Republican Rand Paul: “I like half of him. The other half, I’m like, ‘Are you kidding?’”

• On the Minnesota debate on Sunday liquor sales: (Seeming stunned) “What, is that some kind of Calvinism?”

Quinton Skinner is a writer and editor based in the Twin Cities. A former senior editor of Minnesota Monthly, he held the same post at Twin Cities METRO and 
has written for major national and local publications. He is the co-founder of Logosphere Storysmiths and author of several novels, including his latest, Odd One Out.