Call it multitasking: Despite being the host of a wildly popular roundtable talk show and the satirical author of numerous best-selling books, Bill Maher still sets aside a good chunk of his busy year to stick to his roots in standup comedy. Maher brings his road show to Kingston this Sunday, November 13, with “An Evening with Bill Maher” at the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC).
No stranger to controversy, Maher has actually reveled in his ability to spark lively political discourse over the years, first on Politically Incorrect, which ran on Comedy Central and ABC for a decade, which he followed for the past eight years with Real Time on HBO. He has taken his mission to cinemas with Religulous – a documentary that poked fun at organized religion – and bookstores, with further explorations of his contemporary satirical edge like When You Ride with Bin Laden, You Ride Alone and the ironically titled New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer.
But standup is where Maher really cut his teeth, a journey that began in 1979; and while today sees him primarily working in Las Vegas showrooms, it will also feature frequent forays into theaters across the country very much like UPAC, Kingston’s shining jewel on Broadway.
Maher’s most recent standup film, Bill Maher: But I’m Not Wrong, was released on DVD a year ago and saw him tackling many of the same topics that still make headlines today and that may well turn up in his performance at UPAC: Barack Obama; the Tea Party; the economy; drugs; the War on Terror. Maher’s personal politics are sometimes difficult to pin down: He favors the decriminalization of marijuana and is a sitting board member of PETA; he favors partial privatization of Social Security, ending corporate welfare and federal funding of non-profits and is a vehement opponent of 9/11 conspiracy theorists; he has described himself as a “Libertarian,” a “progressive” and a “sane person.”
Whether anyone attending Maher’s show at UPAC will come away with a better understanding of who he is remains to be seen. But if audience response to his television programs and filmed standup performances is any indication, anticipate laughs and deep thought in equal measures.
Tickets for “An Evening with Bill Maher” are $85 for Gold Circle, $55 general admission and $50 for Bardavon members. The show begins at 7 p.m. on Sunday, November 13. For more information, visit www.bardavon.org.