Bill Maher stopped by Bovard Auditorium on Monday night to deliver a routine that was as politically incorrect as it was funny.
Maher left students laughing as he delivered relentless criticism of his usual victims: religion, the media and the Republican Party.
The event was put together in a collaborative effort by the USC Program Board Speakers Committee, Political Student Assembly, the Performing Arts Committee and USC Spectrum.
Bill Maher launched his own show on HBO, Real Time, after years of heading his own television show, Politically Incorrect, on Comedy Central. In 2005, Maher was named 38 on Time magazine’s 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time. He received a star on Hollywood Boulevard in 2010.
After a roast of GOP statesmen ranging from Rick Santorum to Donald Trump, Maher became more serious when discussing the plight of America’s poor.
“The reason the American dream is unsustainable is because, at its core, it says that everyone should grow up and do better than their parents,” he said. “America is tenth in social mobility, which essentially means we are tenth in the American dream.”
From there, Maher moved to a topic he is perhaps most famous for criticizing in his documentary, Religulous: religion. Referring to the idea of religion as “marketing an invisible product,” Maher emphasized that atheists are the largest minority in America, with their numbers approaching almost one third of people under the age of 33.
Some students were skeptical of the message and strategies Maher’s style promoted.
Giuseppe Robalino, a freshman majoring in business administration, said Maher’s politics often do more harm than good for political change.
“I heard people leaving the auditorium very disillusioned with his cursing,” he said. “This event seems to only promote divisionism and not true examination of the issues at hand.”
Others, however, believed that students were able to sort through and absorb the information.
“As with all comedy, you can take what you want from it,” said Kirstin Louie, a sophomore majoring in classics. “Some of it, you just sit there and you laugh, and then wait for the next thing he says that might be more meaningful.”
When asked about his critics, Maher acknowledged that there are many of them, and said he gets the most hate messages online.
“They’ll never come out to my routines,” he joked. “As long as I don’t read my Twitter feed, I never have to deal with them!”
Jonny Harris, a senior majoring in history and political science, said the Q & A session with students that following Maher’s routine was especially enlightening.
“There were a lot of insightful questions and funny responses,” he said. “Maher can really think on his feet and hit a lot of relevant issues.”
Students can vote on the USC Speakers Committee Facebook page for who the committee should invite to be the next guest. The top three choices as of Tuesday were Stephen Colbert, Jennifer Lawrence and Ryan Gosling.
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