TV on DVD Review: Bill Maher "...But I'm Not Wrong" (An HBO Live Comedy Special)

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He may be as politically incorrect as ever but fans of Bill Maher wouldn’t have it any other way.

Irreverently divisive, sardonic and ever-ready with his trademark acerbic wit, if you’re watching Bill Maher, then chances are that – much like this reviewer who’s enjoyed his work ever since Politically Incorrect first hit the airwaves – you’re in agreement with a majority of what he’s saying.

Like Michael Moore, Bill Maher is particularly successful since he’s preaching to the choir of those of us who admire the bravery that goes along with taking a stand and calling out things we can only dream of as evidenced in the underrated Larry Charles helmed documentary Religulous.

But one of the problems with being on Maher’s wavelength is that there’s not a whole lot that winds up surprising us about his act, which essentially sounds like an eighty minute version of a Larry King Live interview or an all Maher episode of Real Time with Maher hitting the notes you’d expect as though we were given the sheet music ahead of time.

Fittingly titled ”…But I’m Not Wrong,” unfortunately even though Maher’s stances on politics, the military, foreign policy and religion are frequently right on the money, there’s just not enough about the material on the whole to keep this HBO special from going wrong despite his good intentions.

Worthier of a rental than a purchase, frequently Wrong is more amusing than laugh out loud funny. Ultimately, this reaction is further solidified by the fact that not only does it take Maher a good fifteen minutes to land into just the right rhythm after perhaps being slightly intimidated by the crowd’s “screaming ovation,” but that oddly, Maher is the one who does the most giggling from start to finish – laughing like a schoolgirl at his jokes often before he’s even reached the punchline or comedic point of longer anecdotes.

From justified yet slightly stale shots at surefire laugh magnets Sarah Palin and George W. Bush to daring Barack Obama to “black it up,” Maher dodges seriousness on occasion with a few too many cheap lines about sex acts to wake up audience members by appealing to their basest instincts.

To this end, when he segues from intelligent and genuinely witty observations about the damage done to the country by prudes by flatly stating that prostitution will never go away simply because like the rappers preach, some women are just lazy hos, he unwisely dumbs down his points in a way that would probably work better when he hangs with Hef and the bunnies at the Playboy Mansion.

For although he regularly reminds his ticket holders that he’s not about to let the show turn into a rally when he chuckles his way onto a soapbox, in the end we realize that he’s most “at home” when he does ignore The Tonight Show Leno style lines and instead holds up a mirror to the messed up state of affairs with an ability and ease that most comedians wish they possessed.

Bill Maher

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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.