Bill Maher breaks all the rules
Conservatives control the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, and a good portion of the media. Possibly the only thing the right has not conquered is America's funny bone. Searching for weapons of mass destruction is a simpler task than finding a funny Republican; a 17-car pileup is much funnier than any Dennis Miller punchline. Meanwhile, the long list of liberals who can actually make you laugh begins with comedian/talk-show host Bill Maher.
Since 1993, Maher has found himself in living rooms across the country challenging such establishments as the federal government and the Catholic Church through his famous sarcasm-laced rants. Originally a part of Comedy Central's programming lineup, Politically Incorrect saw the always outspoken Maher at the front and center of debates among pop stars, poets, politicians, and pundits. After four successful seasons, PI was picked up by ABC in 1997 to follow Nightline, upgrading Maher's status from that guy who hosted that show on that channel half of the country didn't get to the host of a late-night network television show.
PI's run came to an end in 2002. The show's days were numbered when sponsors pulled their ads following Maher's controversial statements regarding the terrorist attacks of September 11, when he uttered the infamous line, "We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."
Now Maher can be seen engaging in verbal kung-fu with a panel of A-list guests who represent both the radical right and the liberal left each week on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. Earlier this year, the 49-year-old comic released his sixth book, New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer.
Saturday, Maher brings his list of new rules to the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts (174 E. Flagler St., Miami). Tickets cost $47. (See article in Stage.) Call 305-374-2444, or visit www.ticketmaster.com. Tim Hammill
Eva La Diva
Don't Cry for Her, South Florida
Twenty years before Evita became an award-winning film in 1996 (and, unfortunately, Madonna's last worthwhile acting endeavor), the story of Eva Perón was told on the grooves of a musical album by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Some time after that (OK, in 1978), Evita moved on to the live stage the form that can be experienced this month at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Known for its chart-topping numbers (most famously "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina"), the musical explores the legend of a girl who grew from a life of poverty to become wife of Argentinean dictator Juan Perón. Though she died at 33, Perón was an iconic figure, from her days as a radio and film actress to head of a foundation that helped Argentina's poor. Though some of the biographical details in Rice's lyrics have been disputed (including Perón's alleged bad acting), it's a poignant tale nonetheless. Perón wouldn't want you to shed any tears for her, anyway. Evita opens Tuesday and runs through November 27. Tickets cost $21 to $64. Call 954-462-0222, or visit www.browardcenter.org. Jason Budjinski
'Twas the Season
We were the champions
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Typically, guys who remind everyone of their glory days in high school sports are a sad lot, though they make for entertaining characters (Married... With Children's Al Bundy, Napoleon Dynamite's Uncle Rico). The group of aging ex-jocks in That Championship Season are no exception. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Jason Miller reunites four high school basketball players with the coach who led them to victory 20 years prior. The five meet at the coach's house in a small Pennsylvania town. And like any good small-town story, this one's filled with plenty of narrow minds and big egos. After the guys down a hefty amount of liquor, lips loosen, and the words that come out aren't pleasant. Soon, the audience learns the depths of human misery to which the former athletes have plunged, complete with backstabbing, philandering, and alcoholism. That Championship Season is scheduled to open Thursday and run through December 4 at Palm Beach Dramaworks (322 Banyan Blvd., West Palm Beach). Tickets cost $35 to $38. Call 561-514-4042. Jason Budjinski
There's Still Stanhope
Like a train wreck in slow motion, Doug Stanhope's material is captivating sex with conjoined twins, tales of scoring prostitutes and drugs, dark but dead-on social criticism. What he says might change your life, like this recent rant (from his website): "I don't want to be young again, I just want people my age to stop being so fucking old. I want to see a room full of people my age full to their throat on Ecstasy and wine. You know we're dead at the end of this, right? So do me a favor. Fuck something up a little. Tell your kids the truth about at least one thing you've lied about. Steal something. Fuck someone ugly. Skip work and get drunk at noon at a tittie bar. Prank call your higher-ups in the middle of the night and tape it. Remember what a shithead the young would think you are and change it a little." Stanhope performs Friday and Saturday at the New York Comedy Club (8221 Glades Rd., Boca Raton). Call 561-470-6887, or visit www.nyccboca.com. Deirdra Funcheon