Born: January 20, 1956
AKA: William Maher, Jr.
BlueMeter: Risqué

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Next Tour Date

Saturday | April 20
Bill Maher: The WTF? Tour
San Jose Center For The Performing Arts
San Jose, CA

See all tour dates for Bill Maher



2006 New Rules
2005 The Aristocrats (Original Soundtrack)
1994 Comic Relief VI

This album is a compilation, featuring multiple comics.

Specials (and other video)

2016 Bill Maher: Whiny Little Bitch
2012 Crazy Stupid Politics

Premiered online at Yahoo!

2010 Live: Bill Maher ...But I'm Not Wrong
2007 Bill Maher: The Decider
2006 Comic Relief 2006

Benefit show that features multiple comics.

2005 The Aristocrats
2005 Bill Maher: I'm Swiss
2003 Bill Maher: Victory Begins at Home
2000 Bill Maher: Be More Cynical
1997 Bill Maher: The Golden Goose Special
1995 BIll Maher: Stuff That Struck Me Funny
1994 Comic Relief VI

Benefit show that features multiple comics.

1992 One Night Stand: Bill Maher 2
1989 One Night Stand: Bill Maher 1
1983 The 8th Annual Young Comedians Show

Books (by and about)

2011 The New New Rules: A Funny Look at How Everybody but Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass
2005 New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer
2003 When You Ride Alone You Ride with Bin Laden
1997 Does Anybody Have a Problem with That? The Best of Politically Incorrect
1994 True Story: A Novel


Born in Manhattan, raised in River Vale, New Jersey, Maher graduated from Cornell University in 1978 majoring in English. From there, he made a U-turn into comedy, earning his first paycheck at Jade Fountain, a Chinese Restaurant off Route 17 in Paramus, NJ. He starred on stage in Steve Allen's musical "Seymour Glick is Alive and Sick," toured the country's comedy clubs and grinded out periodic HBO Specials (in 1989, 1992 and 1995).

The years yielded experience, mounting fame, and eventually a novel about the stand-up life, "True Story." Part Hungarian part Irish (mother Julie is Jewish, father William is Catholic), Maher's best joke from his stand-up days was about his ethnicity. "I was brought up Catholic…with a Jewish mind. When we'd go to confession, I'd bring a lawyer in with me. "Bless me Father, for I have sinned…I think you know Mr. Cohen?"

A smart but cold performer, Bill admits that it may have taken him a lot of years to make it because "I make a rotten first-through-ninth impression. I'm not someone people like right away. And I don't warm up to people quickly."

Bill's material soon touched on politics, and the cold-blooded approach worked on this cold-blooded business. He became one of the few young comedians to be considered iconoclastic in the smart Mort Sahl tradition. At a banquet filled with politicians Maher offered uncompromising quips. He offered a campaign slogan for Phil Gramm: "Gramm: For people who think Dole isn't mean enough." He added, "Senator Gramm is so tough on immigration he's going to deport his [Asian] wife."

Another memorable line…"Marion Barry promised to get drugs off the street, one gram at a time."

And yet, he's very sensitive to the unavoidable fact that iconoclasts don't usually earn the respect of their targets for telling it comically like it is. He recalls a time he met President Clinton. Afterward, "I swear to God I got a feeling that he kind of gave me the evil eye. I can't put my finger on it, maybe I'm just reading something into it. But when he shook my hand and said hello, I kinda got a look that said 'You rat bastard what did you say the other night? I oughta kill you!' You know…but maybe it's just me being overly sensitive."

Maher became the host of "Politically Incorrect" on the fledgeling Comedy Central channel, a cable station that at the time was an uneven mix of old stand-up re-runs, bad movies and amateurish shows trying for MTV "edge." Maher's program was one of the few intelligent and funny offerings on Comedy Central—or anywhere else on cable. Playboy called it "The McLaughlin Group' on acid….one of the few [shows] you actually wish went on longer than its allotted time."

In a Playboy interview, Maher explained why his show was so different from Oprah, Sally, and the rest. On those programs, "People aren't talking. They're shriving, they're confessing, they're exposing. But these shows are indicative of what's happening out there. A lot of people in the country are jerking themselves off. I've also said that programs like The Tonight Show are no longer real talk, just cogs in the publicity mill. And they know that. But those shows started more like my show. My show is retro. In the Steve Allen-Jack Paar era, the qualification that got you on a talk show was your ability to talk."

Sometimes the talk can simply be a maddening, comic-smart retort. Maher, a supporter of capitol punishment, defends himself with a question: "Why is life precious?"

The program and host won two Cable Ace awards in 1995 and Maher quickly found himself with a hit show transferred to ABC late night.

The topical talk show remained a hit, benefitting from a strong lead-in from Ted Koppel's nightly dissection of breaking news. Maher continued to foray into stand-up (the 1996 HBO special "Stuff that Struck Me Funny") but found his own show to be quite time consuming. He also is involved in some charity work, notably People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Maher remains one of the most interesting comedians on television with his blend of old-fashioned comic sensibilities (he knows the value of a good joke with a beginning, middle and punch-line), opinionated observations and iconoclasm, an iconoclasm that extends to his audience:

"It's always been the position of our show that the people aren't blamed enough, and it would help them if they were. People need to be called on their own bullshit. I used to do this joke about somebody who runs for office every year telling the truth, and he never gets anywhere. His slogan is: "I'm not Santa Claus." And he's not president, either. The people want to be lied to. They want the guy who can lie to them in the smoothest way."