A Digitally Incorrect Chat With Bill Maher About Pervs, Nuts, And Other Politicians

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As Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher enters its sixth season, it’s more chemically potent than ever — “America’s smartest talk show,” according to TV Guide. Perhaps most remarkable about the ABC-TV program’s success is that it deals with a subject not known for its ability to garner high ratings: politics. The main reason for The show’s staying power? Maher himself, a cranky, plain-talking comedian/commentator who irreverently takes on every political issue and politician to hit the front pages — or the tabloids. His guest lists feature foursomes that might be considered somewhat surreal in their diversity: actors, politicians, authors, assorted B- and C-list celebrities, and other news makers. In that mold, recent guests included performance artist Karen Finley (whose “indecent” work got a rise out of Jesse Helms), Chris Rock, Senator Bob Torricelli, Joan Rivers, Ronald Reagan Jr., and Yahoo! cofounder Jerry Yang.

When we first interviewed Maher in an early issue of Y-Life (note the, ahem, “quaint” layout – Ed), he was a tough, though amusing, critic of the Internet. He challenged the relatively new technology to do something, well, new. “Hey, now you can read a newspaper on a computer!” said Maher, rolling his eyes in mock disbelief. He said that he, for one, would have been more impressed if the computer had come first and technologists had figured out a way to make the news appear on paper: “They can bring it right to your door, and you can take it with you and read it on the subway!”

Two years later, before heading into a presidential election year, we again tracked down Maher to find out if his judgment of the Net, that bastion of all things politically incorrect, has changed.

It has. Sort of.

Y-LIFE: We heard you finally upgraded to a new computer.

MAHER: Yeah, and I’m planning to tear its maker a new a–hole on the air sometime soon. Why did I need a new computer? Because, I was persuaded, mine was seven years old, things have changed so much, I was obsolete and out of date, I couldn’t communicate with anyone else because it was so old and inferior, blah, blah, blah.

OK. So I stepped into the modern era and found that, as far as I’m concerned, the quantum leaps in computer technology have been inconsequential. This new computer didn’t improve things at all, at least for my needs. In fact, some things are worse. As far as writing — word processing, cutting and pasting, printing — it’s just more complicated.