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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.

The final segment of New Rules generally leads into a longer and more serious statement on the issue (or any other issue that is related).


Real Time with Bill Maher contains examples of:

  • Analogy Backfire: Bill mimicking sarcastic anti-government questions before answering them with a Blunt Yes.
    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?"
    [beat]
    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 - Biology: He originally stated that he did not believe in germ-theory or vaccines
  • 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.
  • Blunt Yes: See Analogy Backfire.
  • 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.
  • 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 talk 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 responded 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
  • 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
  • In Memoriam: Parodied with "A Farewell to Douchebags", a montage of unpopular politicians and political figures who lost during election cycles.
    • Played straight with Richard Jeni and Christopher Hitchens' deaths, as Bill showed montages of their previous appearances on this show and his previous show Politically Incorrect.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the Comedy Central/ABC program Politically Incorrect.
  • Strawman Political: Used all the time.
  • Take That: See above.
  • 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.

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alternative title(s): Real Time With Bill Maher
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