For more than twenty years, Bill Maher has set the boundaries of where funny, political talk can go on American television. First on “Politically Incorrect” (Comedy Central, ABC, 1993-2002), and for the last fourteen years on HBO’s “Real Time,” Maher’s combination of unflinching honesty and big laughs have garnered him 38 Emmy nominations. Maher won his first Emmy in 2014 as executive producer for the HBO series, “VICE.”
Bill is an American comedian, political commentator, and television host. He is well known for the HBO political talk show Real Time with Bill Maher (2003–present) and the similar late-night show called Politically Incorrect, originally on Comedy Central and later on ABC.
Maher is known for his sarcastic attitude, political satire, and sociopolitical commentary. He targets many topics including religion, politics, bureaucracy, political correctness, and the mass media.
Maher began his career as a stand-up comedian and actor. He was host of the New York City comedy club Catch a Rising Star in 1979. Maher began appearing on Johnny Carson's and David Letterman's shows in 1982. He made limited television appearances including on Sara (1985), Max Headroom (1987), Murder, She Wrote (1989, 1990), and Charlie Hoover (1991). His feature film debut was in D.C. Cab (1983). He later appeared in Ratboy (1986), House II: The Second Story (1987), Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1988), and Pizza Man (1991).
In 2003, Maher became the host, co-producer and co-writer of Real Time with Bill Maher, a weekly hour-long political comedy talk show on the cable television network HBO. In 2010 it had its 9th season, and in 2016 HBO has renewed Real Time through 2018, for its 15th and 16th seasons. During an interview, Maher told Terry Gross (on NPR's Fresh Air) that he much prefers having serious and well-informed guests on his program, as opposed to the random celebrities that fleshed out his roundtable discussions on Politically Incorrect.
As with his previous show, Politically Incorrect, Maher begins Real Time with a comic opening monologue based upon current events and other topical issues. He proceeds to a one-on-one interview with a guest, either in-studio or via satellite. Following the interview, Maher sits with two or three panelists, usually consisting of pundits, authors, activists, actors, politicians and journalists, for a discussion of the week's events. In the segment "New Rules" at the end of each show, Maher delivers a humorous editorial on popular culture and American politics.
Real Time has earned widespread praise. It has been nominated for more than ten Primetime Emmy Awards and six Writer's Guild awards. In 2007, Maher and his co-producers were awarded the Television Producer of the Year Award in Variety Television by the Producers Guild of America. Maher holds the record for the most Emmy nominations without a win, having been nominated on 22 occasions and not winning once. Eleven of the nominations were for Politically Incorrect, while nine were for Real Time. The other two were nominations for two of his HBO comedy specials: I'm Swiss and Bill Maher: The Decider.
Maher supports the legalization of cannabis and same-sex marriage. His critical views of religion were the basis for the 2008 documentary film Religulous. He is a supporter of animal rights, having served on the board of PETA since 1997, and is an advisory board member of Project Reason. In 2005, Maher ranked at number 38 on Comedy Central's 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time. He received a Hollywood Walk of Fame star on September 14, 2010.