MAHER IN MIDDLE: Comedian Bill Maher, second from left, is shown at a Los Angeles Lakers playoff game in May at Crypto.com Arena. (Getty Images)
Comedian takes on all comers in Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bill Maher left no hot-button topic untouched over the weekend during his triumphant return to stand-up comedy during the Hollywood writers strike.
Octogenarian presidents, transgender trends, circumcision, abortion, secondary education, Q Anon, single guys who struggle to find sexual intimacy, and of course, marijuana, Maher’s drug of choice, were all laid to bare during his 90-minute set at Ovens Auditorium.
Maher, whose career as a comedian dates to the 1970s before he became a national television talk-show host in the 1990s, kicked off summer/fall tour in the Carolinas, starting on Aug. 19 in Charlotte before stopping at Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina the next day.
Saturday’s show was a gusher. Maher has plenty of his own material to share with audiences after the writers strike put his long-running HBO program “Real Time” on hiatus over the past few months. He’s also stayed busy hosting his popular podcast, “Club Random.”
In Charlotte, which sits near the border of South Carolina, a red state, Maher’s show didn’t sell out at Ovens, a 2,460-seat theater. Balcony tickets sold for rock-bottom prices of $3 and $5 on the secondary market.
It’s difficult to say whether Maher’s self-admitted liberal status affected ticket sales, but it was interesting to observe crowd reactions in a purple state to Maher’s biting and sometimes cringe-worthy commentary. To his credit, Maher has always displayed a take no prisoners approach to his political humor. He pokes fun at both liberal and conservative types, presenting an equal opportunity bash session regardless of political stance.
Halfway through his performance, Maher broached abortion and informed the audience he was pro-choice, which drew cheers from about half the audience. The reaction was lukewarm compared with the eruption of cheers at the beginning and toward the end of his performance.
Starting off, Maher said, “I hope you’re all high (on pot), the show’s a lot funnier if you are,” which drew raucous hollers, followed by a chorus of ‘no’ and boos when he asked whether marijuana was legal in North Carolina. Living in California, where pot is legal, Maher recalled the first time he visited a marijuana dispensary in the Golden State.
“I almost got choked up,” he said, before stating President Joe Biden has been “late” on addressing the issue of legalizing weed across the U.S.
As it relates to abortion, Maher, 67, who’s never been married and has no children, reiterated his stance that he doesn’t particularly care for having offspring, with one exception. “Kids aren’t bad people, because they assembled my phone.”
Along those lines, Maher mentioned the state of North Carolina is about to pass into law raising the minimum age in which individuals can get married from 14 to 16. The Tar Heel State has been way behind on that issue, considering “a lot of these kids aren’t transitioning yet,” Maher joked, referring to the transgender issue.
As they transition from their teen years, Maher voiced his opinion on how he feels college has turned students into a woke contingent that’s more concerned about frivolous things that result in cancel culture.
“Skip college, kids; it’s a waste,” Maher declared.
Ageism took center stage as well. Maher discussed the advanced age of both Biden (80) and former president Donald Trump (77) and how things may unfold if both face each other in debates tied to the 2024 election.
“It will be the first time the debate is closed captioned for the participants,” he said, which drew hearty laughs.
In discussing the woke beef over Bud Light’s transgender promotion, Maher said he’s come up with a new recipe for beer-can chicken by combining the adult beverage with Chick-fil-A, the popular Southeast fast-food chicken restaurant that’s had had its share of disagreements over company owner Dan Cathy’s public comments opposing same-sex marriage.
“Bitches and snitches, that’s all we are now,” Maher said.
Whining falls in that category as well. Maher mentioned Incel, an online forum in which participants are made up of people who are involuntary celibate, sharing their thoughts on the inability to find a romantic partner.
“Do we really need a club for this?” he wondered, referring to a group of self-centered men who don’t have anything better to do with their time.
Closing the set, Maher mentioned something he’s said previously on “Real Time” — that Americans, regardless of political beliefs, must get along and stop cutting each other down.
“It’s time to share a nation with assholes you can’t stand,” he said.
Maher’s comment drew the loudest cheers of the night.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.