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Bill Maher: Stand-up Standup

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Bill Maher took over an hour and a half to do it, but in the end he gave every single one of the 2,422 audience members at least one opportunity to be offended.

His genius lies in the fact that every single fan was laughing too hard to notice – or to care.

Maher has inherited the essence of Will Rogers and Mark Twain. He channels Richard Pryor and George Carlin. He is the crazy uncle in the attics of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. And once he gets going, no one is exempt from his biting, incisive wit.

Friday night’s sold-out show at the Sacramento Community Center was a nonstop roast of all that is absurd in America today.

Maher is well known as the host of the weekly political comedy talk show “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO, and his previous show, “Politically Incorrect,” ran from 1993 to 2004. His 2008 documentary “Religulous” exposes the hypocrisy and contradictions of the business of religion across the spectrum of belief. And he’s been doing stand-up since 1979. There are sacred cows on Maher’s barbeque every night.

This guy knows about political humor.

From the moment the slight man with longish, graying hair stepped onto the bare stage, he owned the place. The audience roared with laughter as Maher delivered line after line skewering the Tea Party, the GOP presidential hopefuls, religious fanaticism and even President Obama, for whom he voted but in whom he is greatly disappointed. He is an equal-opportunity comedian.

Maher is a concerned environmentalist, a strong supporter of gay marriage and backs both the legalization of marijuana and the death penalty. He is a man of strong convictions, and he is absolutely forthright about them. The light he shines on the absurdity and the shamefulness of the current political and economic state of the nation reveals how much he cares about his country. He holds us to a higher standard of integrity about the importance of political knowledge and involvement in all of our lives.

And he’s damned funny doing so.

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