Bill Maher: ‘The longest relationship I’ve ever had is with stand-up’

Talk-show host, comic Bill Maher embraces his liberal voice
What You Need To Know: Bill Maher

What You Need To Know: Bill Maher

Bill Maher, the unapologetic liberal comedian and talk-show host, has been rather upbeat since the Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden under President Barack Obama’s watch.

On his weekly Friday night HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher,” he dubbed Obama “one efficient, steely-nerved, multitasking, black, ninja, gangsta president!”

He’ll give left-leaning fans plenty more bon mots during his stand-up appearance Thursday at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, his first concert in Atlanta in nearly two years.

In a recent interview, he riffed on Obama, Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump.

Q: Were you stunned when Rush Limbaugh gave the president props for a few minutes?

A: I think the key is “a few minutes.” How quickly he went back. I think he and others like him were just stunned that Obama had done it.... The president aced the exam. He said from his campaign we’d go after bin Laden. He focused on al-Qaida. Some psychological barrier has been broken by him. Maybe we don’t have to keep distracting ourselves with this ridiculous war [in Afghanistan]. The war that never ends. Not that we shouldn’t be vigilant, but we need to focus on building this country.

Q: Someone dug up a 2008 episode of “Real Time” where Christiane Amanpour [then on CNN] said she had a source who believed Osama was in a comfortable villa in Pakistan, not a cave in Afghanistan. Did you buy it at the time?

A: I don’t remember our reaction. I don’t think I would have been shocked by that point.... The Bush administration seemed a lot more befuddled by it. The point of showing that clip is to say, “She knew. Why didn’t they?”

Q: Do the Republicans have a realistic shot in 2012 of winning the presidency?

A: It’s too early. But it’s fun to speculate.... Look, the Republicans right now are falling in love with someone new every week. It was Sarah Palin, then Michele Bachmann, then Donald Trump. They all flame out. Newt Gingrich announced he was running over the Internet, on Twitter and Facebook. Why? Because he couldn’t get enough people to show up at a rally.

Q: Did you think Donald Trump was serious?

A: I thought he was. But they took away his big issue with the birther stuff. His issue got fired. He had some backlash. You saw his face during the [White House] correspondents’ dinner. He couldn’t even fake-laugh along when the president made fun of him. As a politician, you have to suck it up and fake it all day long. This is not something Trump is capable of doing.

Q: Do you find doing stand-up on stage easier or more difficult than your talk show?

A: It’s kind of hard to compare them. Stand-up is my first love. The longest relationship I’ve ever had is with stand-up. I couldn’t imagine doing the show without stand-up. I’d feel like I was sitting in this ivory tower in Los Angeles. I go out 75 nights a year. I talk to people at the airport, the cab driver, the person at the hotel, customers at the Starbucks. You get a feel for the country you can’t if you don’t travel it. I feel I get perspective when I come back to my desk here.

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