Bill Maher’s irreverent political comedy and sharp wit entertained a sold-out crowd at Lisner Auditorium Saturday night when he brought an uncensored, 90-minute version of his Politically Incorrect show to GW.
GW’s Program Board sponsored the event, the last stop of Maher’s 10-college tour that featured on-stage discussions similar to those on the show. Politically Incorrect normally airs on ABC, but Saturday’s GW show will not air.
Described by Maher as a cocktail party for celebrities, the show hosts four high-profile guests who discuss and joke about important issues facing the country. Saturday’s show stirred a raging debate over the election, candidates, school vouchers and drugs.
Among the guests for the GW performance were comedian and host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, John Fugelsang, Fox News analyst Angela McGlowan and conservative commentator Barbara Olson. The two female pundits defended conservative positions, while Fugelsang and Gralnick offered a more liberal view.
GW senior Brian Gralnick, international co-director of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, joined the show panel.
Gralnick said he was nervous jumping into policy debates onstage with high-profile personalities, but he was confident when the discussion shifted to drug issues.
Once the issue became the drug war, I felt more comfortable to get involved in the discussion and make my voice heard, even with all these big-time people, he said.
Opening the show with a monologue, Maher discussed the presidential race.
Don’t not vote for Bush because of his (driving under the influence) arrest, he said. Don’t vote for Bush because he is a moron.
Maher mocked both Republicans and Democrats throughout the show.
He chided both presidential candidates for not calling for an end to the drug war, and derided Al Gore for staying too close to President Bill Clinton and failing to stand up to the Republicans.
If Al Gore loses, it will be his fault because he wasn’t smart enough to see that the GOP ran on what happened in Bill Clinton’s pants, Maher said.
Maher described Bush as a fully-owned subsidiary of Texaco.
While Politically Incorrect is a 30-minute show censored by the network for a national audience, Maher said his college performances allow him to voice all of his opinions, use any language he wants and host a commercial-free show that runs almost 90 minutes.
The packed Lisner Auditorium was filled with a loud and active audience cheering and booing at every issue. Guests used audience reaction to prove points, asking members to cheer if they supported something.
Maher said GW’s political makeup is skews it toward the conservatives, compared to other colleges he visited.
They were a great crowd but I have never seen a college audience with this many Republicans. I don’t think there should be so many 20-year old conservatives, Maher said of the audience.
After his monologue, Maher brought out the four guests and opened the floor to debate on a variety of issues. Marijuana and drug legalization roused the biggest audience response throughout the hour-long discussion.
I didn’t intend for it to takeover the show, but because Brian (Gralnick) was here from his organization, it became a big topic, Maher said.
Arguing that alcohol is more damaging than marijuana, Gralnick and Maher questioned why people are jailed for using marijuana.
At the end of the show, Maher took questions from the audience, which led to a heated debate.
Students in the audience said the live version of Politically Incorrect was more entertaining than most shows on TV.
I have only seen `Politically Incorrect’ on (television) a couple times, but after this, I am going to have to tune in all the time, it was so cool, freshman Steven Sullivan said.
The event sold out a week and a half after tickets went on sale, PB Executive Chair Seth Weinert said.
The show surpassed our expectations, Weinert said. The crowd was great and we hope to plan many more events like this in the future, but we need help and ideas from the student body.