When I went to check out the Program Board’s latest effort to entertain the GW masses last Thursday at Lisner Auditorium, I wasn’t sure who Bill Maher actually was. “Bill who? A host? For Politically what?” were my exact words. But persuaded to do something a little more “cultural” than the weekly frat party or the nightly bar stop, I collected the burdensome $10 and headed over to check out the funniest thing in D.C. since the Hippo was declared my class gift. (Hey freshmen, you may be starting off the new millennium, but we sophomores got George Washington’s favorite river horse.)
My friends and I (a.k.a. Procrastinating Queens) waited to get tickets at the door, but to my surprise, the seats actually were pretty decent. We were in the front, to the far left of the stage. Though my neck is still sore from dodging my view around the interpreter for the hearing impaired, I could clearly catch every sparkle in Bill Maher’s silver macram? shirt. Not a blazer and tie type of guy, he already caught my liberal interest.
While your idea of humor may not include Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” approach at comedy, you still have to give the guy some credit. With comic acts on everything from tripping on shrooms to having sex on kitchen sinks, Maher covered it all, at least from a college student’s perspective. He was fearlessly liberal, and sure, he made comments that could have been a little more sensitive. (For example, in reference to Demi Moore being paid a million dollars to sleep with Robert Redford in Indecent Proposal, Maher asked, “What’s the risk? Now, have her sleep with Magic Johnson, that’s worth a million dollars.”) But all in all, Maher’s comic routine touched on ideas I’m sure others have thought but been afraid to say.
Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t agree with everything Maher said and some of the issues (like giving Jews a break because Jesus was killed a long time ago) could have been a more delicately handled, but that’s the whole beauty of Maher’s work. As students of the ’80s and ’90s, we live in a society in which many people are afraid to speak their minds. And why, when it seems that speaking out on what you stand for seems to be such a trend?
It seems people fear that the obvious, crass truth is too much for others to bear. There’s always a better way of saying something, a more politically correct way. What makes Maher admirable is that he stepped past this fear and rattled off his random thoughts. In a city like D.C., where the hard truth is sometimes manipulated to “save” the public from … what? I’m not quite sure.
Maher was asking to be martyred Thursday night. Yes, I agree some of his jokes were crude, but to all who attended, and to all who missed out on one of the most interesting recent events put on by PB, I hope you can see that it was all humor and in a way, truthful. Your humor may exist in that gray state of political correctness, but to me, describing someone as “vertically challenged” just isn’t as truthful, or funny, as “short.”
So, if you ever get the chance to catch a Maher performance, don’t look around first to see who else is laughing and who’s sitting beside you that might be offended. Just let go of your fear of political incorrectness for a second and enjoy his show for what it’s worth: offensive, truthful comedy.
-The writer is senior production assistant at The GW Hatchet.