Series / Real Time with Bill Maher

A late night political program that airs on HBO since 2003.

The show generally follows a rather simple pattern. It opens with Maher performing some kind of humorous monologue on different topics for around ten minutes. This is followed by him interviewing an individual for ten to fifteen minutes. The show gets into deeper political commentary when he moves onto the panel.

The panel is (normally) composed of three individuals: one liberal, one conservative and the other a Wild Card who is generally an entertainer of some sorts. Panelists who don't fall into the political spectrum, such as reporters or people involved in international politics, have become more common as the show goes on.

The panel will discuss certain issues that are brought up by Maher, with him leading the discussion. Sometimes Maher will bring on a fourth guest halfway through who is almost always an entertainer promoting a new project of theirs. The show ends with a five or so minute segment called New Rules, where Maher effectively monologues on issues, with a picture and text caption to describe the issue. New Rules concludes by seguing into a longer and more serious statement on a topical issue.

Real Time with Bill Maher contains examples of:

  • Analogy Backfire: Bill mimicking sarcastic anti-government questions before answering them with a Blunt "Yes". Of course, he had to change the analogy from the DMV (stereotypically inconvenient and inefficient at a job most people don't think needs to be done at all) to the Post Office for it to work...
    Bill: I mean, how stupid is it when people say, "Oh that's what we need, the federal government telling Detroit how to make cars, or Wells Fargo how to run a bank; you want them to look like the post office?"
    Bill: Yeah. I mean, a place that takes a little note from my hand from LA on Monday, to give it to my sister in New Jersey on Wednesday, for 42 cents? Well, let me be the first to say that I would be THRILLED if America's healthcare system was anywhere near as functional as the post office.
  • Artistic License Ė Biology: He originally stated that he did not believe in germ-theory or vaccines
  • At Least I Admit It: Adam Schiff characterized Russian politicians' attitude toward America this way during his interview with Bill, noting that much of President Donald Trump's own rhetoric about Russia (esp. Trump's "is Putin a killer?" interview with Bill O'Reilly) has only further invited the Not So Different comparison:
    Schiff: The Russian narrative is, "We're a thug-ocracy, we're a kleptocracy, and we don't make any bones about it anymore. But America's exactly the same way; they're just a bunch of hypocrites."
  • Author Tract: Maher has a number of pet issues that he will often dedicate large portions of screen time to addressing, including environmentalism, marijuana legalization and religion.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment:
    Republicans need to stop saying Barack Obama is an elitist, or looks down on rural people, and just admit you donít like him because of something he canít help, something thatís a result of the way he was born. Admit it, youíre not voting for him because heís... smarter than you.
    • If he doesn't outright say what he actually thinks is the reason behind others disliking Obama, he always does the above.
    They just can't like the guy, and I can't quite put my finger on why...maybe it's because he's skinny.
  • Captain Obvious Aesop: He'll occasionally give one jokingly.
    And look, I am no fan of Assad, and I say that openly! I don't care if that costs me jobs in Hollywood!
  • Deadpan Snarker: Well...
    "France's voter turnout was 90%. You couldn't get 90% of [eligible] Americans to vote if the election were between 'tits,' and 'bigger tits,' and they were handing out free samples!"
  • Double Standard: In one episode, he asked why Democrats who are caught in sex scandals are immediately disgraced, whereas Republicans caught under similar circumstances can go on with their careers as if nothing happened.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: His mock PSA about young men being forced into having unwanted sex and suffering from a condition called "Lucky Bastard Syndrome".
  • Fetish Fuel: Note in-universe that Scarlett Johansson dressing as Cinderella was this.
  • Freudian Slip: Occasionally.
    Bill Maher, talking about the Republican Party's attitude towards Barack Obama: "If Michelle Bachman-if Michelle Bachman... If Michelle Obama, *laughs*, says it's good to eat vegetables and take a walk, then I'm gonna sit in my garage with the car running and drink bacon grease out of a coffee can!"

    Bill Maher, quoting Jerry Falwell, a Heteronormative Crusader: "If you're a born-again Christian, you are a failure as a hu- If you're not a born-again Christian you're a failure as a human being."
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot:
    The media has to stop using gay marriage as an excuse to show hot girl-on-girl action.
  • Guest Host: Not for a whole episode, mind, but Seth MacFarlane did host a recent edition of Overtime.
    • He himself has guest hosted Piers Morgan's show a few times.
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: During his tirade against conservatives, who had done an utterly baffling thing in his eyes by attacking Michelle Obama for her initiative to get parents to send kids outside to play more as a way to get them to be more healthy, he responds with a deadpan comment of:
    "Well, I mean, you know who else "sent" people places? ...Hitler."
  • Hollywood Atheist: Maher can be thought of as one (generally due to his documentary Religulous and his statements that religious belief is a neurological disorder), but is an apatheist Technically speaking, this would place him more towards "hard agnosticism" than full on atheism.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The "New Rules" segments.
  • Hypocritical Humor: He both loves to point this out, and do it himself.
    Bill: When I called America a stupid country, Bill O'Reilly called me a 'pinhead', which (a) proves my point, and (b) is real smart coming from a doody-face like him!
  • If I Wanted X, I Would Y
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He can often be crude, but even people who hate him have to concede that he at least occasionally has a point. One good example was when he called America a stupid country. In response to the backlash, he listed some depressing statistics. Such as 18% of Americans believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth.
  • Jesus Was Way Cool: Religious people are one of Maher's favorite targets. It is common for him to mock conservative Christians for failing to live up to Jesus' teachings on matters such as the killing of Osama bin Laden.
  • Just Like Making Love:
    Our intention was good; to penetrate Iraq and bring it to a glorious euphoric climax. But it's clear now, that's not going to happen... and yet, we're still pounding away, causing the whole area to become painfully inflamed... and in that situation the kindest thing you can do is just pull out.
  • Laughing at Your Own Jokes: Bill Maher does it as well, though you get the impression that they're not actually his jokes, but those of his writers, which he seems to be learning for the first time from the teleprompter.
  • N-Word Privileges: Maher faced heavy criticism for joking about being a ďhouse niggerĒ during an interview with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). The following week, both rapper Ice Cube and Bernie Sanders advisor Symone Sanders were guests on the show and explained why Maher could not use the word, even during a comedy routine. Ice Cube in particular deconstructed the logic by which many white people believe they can use but still cannot.
    Ice Cube: Itís in the lexicon Ö but thatís our word now. Thatís our word now, and you canít have it back.
  • Odd Friendship: Bill has hit it off with the likes of Rick Santorum, Jeffrey Lord, and Milo Yiannopoulos, all of whom he vehemently disagrees with on policy, but seems to enjoy as people. The first two are even frequent panelists of the show.
  • Once an Episode: New Rules will always occur. ALWAYS. The only exception came during the Writers' Strike.
    • Invariably, Bill jokes that one of his guests is working "my old job." Bill's quite the Renaissance Man.
  • Opposites Attract: Fond of having Ann Coulter as a guest, who he's said is a friend of his, and it's rumored they used to date. A lot of this stems from him admitting that it was his old show that ended up making her famous.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Some of his New Rules take this form, with varying degrees of humor.
  • Running Gag: Face-Ripper Monkey as a politician.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Bill's default mode.
    At the Golden Globes this month, Michael Keaton mixed up the titles of two movies that had a black cast: Hidden Figures and Fences. He said "Hidden Fences." Because he's a Klansman.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the Comedy Central/ABC program Politically Incorrect.
  • Strawman Political: Often used straight and also often identified and attacked, by Maher or guests in either case.
  • The Stoner: Bill mentions his love of pot at every possible opportunity.
  • Take That!: Maher often directs harsh criticism at those who earn his ire.
  • Thanatos Gambit: After the death of Osama bin Laden, Bill had wondered whether America's behavior since The War on Terror has been this for Bin Laden.

Alternative Title(s): Bill Maher