We all know him as the witty hybrid of Johnny Carson and George Carlin; the anti-religion, anti-South, pro-drug, pro-leather suit godfather of televised political satire. But did you know that there was once a whole decade where Bill Maher was as cool and relevant as Tim Allen at a Sleigh Bells concert? While getting fired from ABC for his 9/11 comments, building an iconic political talk show on HBO, and starring in a hit documentary about the ridiculousness of belief in god has made Maher the William F. Buckley of his time (only a little more stoned, and with a bit less love for Joseph McCarthy), before he began hosting pop political shows this animal-loving standup comedian was an overblown, bargain-bin meathead of an actor, staring in B-movies not fit for a thrift- store dumpster. While we await Maher's standup show at the Paramount tonight, we thought we'd give you a look at what the white-haired atheist was up to before he gave us Christine O'Donnell. Here is a comprehensive list of the film and TV sins of BIll Maher, during the dark days of the 1980s.
While Joel Schumacher is beloved for creating St. Elmo's Fire, Lost Boys and that Smashing Pumpkins video, D.C. Cab has slipped through the cracks of film lore and become a useless novelty of the video rental bubble. I know, I know, a low-budget film starring such treasured names as Adam Baldwin, Mr. T. and Gary Busey is not the Citizen Kane of its time? Take a look at this Evil Dead-style fight scene and see for yourself how captivating an actor young Maher once was.
Married with Children
While there are still traces of Maher's knuckle-dragging misogyny in his comedy today, never was it as pure and prevalent as in the 1980s, when he guest-starred in this early Fox sitcom. While we would have liked to have given you a clip of Maher's role in the prime-time stinker Charlie Hoover, starring a heroin-addicted Sam Kinison as a 3 inch manifestation of a middle-aged man's imagination, the only remaining clips have been dubbed in Spanish. Though we figured this clip of Maher as a deplorable dating-game show host was sufficiently damning.
Murder She Wrote
The Big Lebowski, meet a desperate-for-work Bill Maher. Tonight's conversation topic: Wallets.
While known for his sharp wit and expert comic timing, Bill Maher has never really been championed as a great physical comedian. And in this cheap-noir film about a one-dimensional pizza-delivery character, we see why. Perhaps it was seeing himself in this humiliating dance scene that made Maher consider getting a desk job.
Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death
Of course, deep down, we love Bill Maher in all his partisan glory. There is almost nothing that could keep us from appreciating him as the genre-defining iconoclast that he is. Almost. One thing that could probably prevent that is this clip from the 1989 B-movie that is simultaneously offensive to feminist academics and pretty much any breathing male. Even with the attempts at self-aware campiness, the film falls somewhere between Schindler's List and a dog turd in terms of comedic value -- with Bill Maher eeking out one cringe-worthy scene after another.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Bill Maher's stand up comedy show begins at 8 p.m. tonight at the Paramount Theater, 1621 Glenarm Place. Tickets start at $55. For more information visit www.paramountdenver.com.