Note: this article was also published on Neon Tommy.
Bill Maher couldn’t believe how easy his job suddenly became over the last few days. In “An Evening With Bill Maher” last night at the University of Southern California’s Bovard Auditorium, he began his comedy routine by blasting the GOP’s actions that led to the recent government shutdown, at one point equating them with David Koresh, and wondering if this is the start of what is to him a scary trend.
The routine was peppered with several jokes at not only the Republican party as a whole, but at specific politicians – everyone from Mitt Romney (“the cure for common charisma”) to Ted Cruz were skewered with abandon during the almost 90 minute routine. The party is made up of ‘Are you f**king kidding me?’ candidates such as Michelle Bachmann and Donald Trump, according to Maher.
He charged into the idea of the dislike for Obama is primarily racist (and got his first boo of the evening when he makes a joke about ‘taking a swing at Rhianna’), and brought up a new phrase he had come up with on “Real Time With Bill Maher” recently – black-tracking: “The act of changing one’s mind because President Obama has agreed with you.”
He then theorized that the reason the Republican party has had such a bad couple of election cycles is because America is changing. Republicans, according to Maher, are afraid of the growth of women, minorities and the LGBT community: “everything from that ’60s dorm room they were never invited to.”
But the Republican party wasn’t his only topic of the evening, although it was the primary one. He also did part of his routine on religion, with the Mormon church – “too crazy for even Tom Cruise to join” – and Catholics – the Pope is “just a big Catholic celebrity” – getting the most jabs. Religion is just about the perks: “but you’re selling an invisible product.” Later, during the short Q&A session held, he was quick to say, “I don’t dislike religious people: I just feel bad for them.”
Before the show, USC senior Tania Mercado stated she was one of the first in line because, “I think that he is able to make politics funny and interesting for people that wouldn’t normally be interested in politics.” The public policy and law major compared what he’s doing to Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. “His humor and spin on things is very creative and unique.”
USC theater and film student Cole Finney hoped Maher’s routine would reflect the government shutdown. “I like how he speaks his mind very freely,” Finney said. “He looks at politics in a very blunt and honest light. He just gets down to the human nitty gritty aspect of what they’re actually talking about.”
Maher ended the Q&A with a call to action: it is up to us to help change things in politics, and there needs to be a reminder that it’s “we” in “yes, we can.” The government may be shut down, but Bill Maher’s satire is still open for business.