Bill Maher is on the forefront of the new wave of comedians who have begun to influence and shape political debate through their comedy. He is best known not just for being funny, but for advocating truth over sensitivity and taking on the political establishment. Maher first came to national attention as the host of the hit ABC-TV program Politically Incorrect
, where he offered a combustible mixture of irreverence and acerbic humor that helped him to garner a loyal following, as well as a reputation for being a controversial bad boy.
Bill Maher's popular new HBO television show, Real Time, has put Maher more front and center than ever before. Particularly one regular segment on the show, entitled "New Rules," has been a hit with his ever-growing legion of fans. It is the part of the show during which Maher takes serious aim, bringing all of his intelligence, incisiveness, wit, and his signature exasperation to bear on topics ranging from cell phones ("I don't need my cell phone to take pictures or access the Internet. I just need it to make a phone call. From everywhere! Not just the places it likes!") to fast food ("No McDonald's in hospitals. I'm not kidding!) to the conservative agenda ("Stop claiming it's an agenda. It's not an agenda. It's a random collection of laws that your corporate donors paid you to pass.")
His new book, the first since his bestselling When You Ride Alone You Ride with bin Laden, brings these brilliantly conceived riffs and rants to the written page. Appropriately titled New Rules, the book will collect some of the best of the rules derived from previously written material and will also contain substantial new material, including some longer form "editorials"--of course with a twist and bite that only Bill Maher can deliver.
Rule Breaker: An Amazon.com Interview with Bill Maher
In New Rules: Polite Musings of a Timid Observer, Bill Maher skewers celebrity, pop culture, and politics in his classic acerbic style. With a new season of Real Time with Bill Maher and an upcoming HBO Special (his sixth), Bill Maher: I'm Swiss, on deck, Maher also found the time to host Amazon.com's 10th Anniversary Concert at Seattle's Benaroya Hall. Amazon.com caught up with Maher upon his return to Los Angeles to talk about the book, the comic's night-table reading habits, the Internet, and what's wrong with the media.
Read our Amazon.com interview with Bill Maher
More from Bill Maher
From Publishers Weekly
The new rules TV host Maher establishes for "a self-obsessed, success-by-any-means, get-mine culture" make a convincing case for Maher's claim that everyone but him is crazy. Zingers about fads like low-carb dieting and flat-screen televisions ("Congratulations-you just paid $10,000 to watch Hogan's Heroes") poke fun at appearance-obsessed, megalomaniacal American consumers, and his takes on current news stories such as Jennifer Wilbanks, the runaway bride from Georgia, and the popular television shows Desperate Housewives and Growing Up Gotti ("You don't get a TV show because Grandpa killed people") are clever jabs at the media and the entertainment industry. But Maher is at his best when he addresses controversial political issues by making a serious point without sacrificing the wisecracks. He slips a cheeky remark about George Bush's past into his discussion of brutal conditions in prisons, and points out that the No Child Left Behind law has created "pushouts": poor-performing students who Maher says schools put in "phony categories like 'transferred' or 'enrolled in GED' or 'dating Demi Moore'" in order to meet requirements to receive federal funding. Though Maher's rules are sometimes just whiny (he complains about room service personnel not knowing what kind of soup is available) and he repeats a few tired jokes (variations of "you want to spend your millions on a worthless cause, try donating it to the Democrats" appear several times), his views on the state of contemporary political and social culture are bound to cause a few laugh-out-loud moments.
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