An ignorant, wannabe-Jamaican British b-boy; an anti-Semitic, misogynistic but friendly Kazakhstani television reporter; and a homosexual Austrian fashonista--all played by Sacha Baron ... See full summary »
Hipster Ali G. interviews a variety of guests from the world of crime prevention, drug enforcement and the judiciary to discuss the issues of crime and drugs in Britain and America. Ali G, ... See full summary »
Sacha Baron Cohen,
Engaging and funny for those on the left but even then Maher himself can be extreme and disruptive at times
This political comedy and discussion show has run on HBO for the many years now but it is only last year that I started getting into it because my brother, who lives in North America, mentioned he prefers it to The Daily Show. This was enough to make it catch my eye shortly after when I was surfing iTunes and saw that this was available as a free podcast. As a result I'm afraid I cannot comment on the design and appearance of this as a television show, but if I had to guess I'd say its layout is pretty much the same as Leno etc but with some of it spent at an oval shaped table. That's a guess and really it doesn't matter so much because what makes me keep coming back to this is the audio.
OK so we have the odd visual gag but mostly the podcast is just as good as it would be if it was on television perhaps better because the lack of images means you end up focusing on the words. Each week I find the panel discussion mostly lively and engaging, the stand-up routine funny and the interview sections interesting. However I am a liberal and as such I am the choir for the majority of the comments made in this show and I totally understand why, given the partisan nature of US politics, that as many people hate it as love it. The reason for this is Maher himself and ironically he is a weakness to the show.
This is the first time I really have had a lot of experience with him and it says a lot that, even as a left-leaner, I find him very extreme at times. I'm not saying that I am right but I think that it does help to step back and look at the media in the US. As was recently discussed on this show, the Right clearly have the talk-radio sown up and this is where the "nuts" (from a Left point of view) reside, spitting out far-right opinions unchallenged. To me Maher is on the other extreme even if the show itself offers a bit of balance by having a mix of political views represented. However while others get their say, the show is ultimately Maher's and he does tend to dominate. Although it is unlikely that even-handed discussion will ever come out when opposites sides of the spectrum are together, it does often happen that both sides make good points in their favour only for Maher to steam across the conservative view with his opinion. Of course the audience applauds but it takes away from the balanced and intellectual appeal of parts of the show and does make it feel a bit like a show for liberal "nuts".
I'm not aligning the two extremes though because the show does at least have a bit of balance in there and, with Maher a bit more restrained in the panel bits, it could be a lot more valuable as a political discussion show. I have no issue with him in the intro or the "new rules" because this is all him and he can lean heavily to the left without harm; it is just the panel where he needs to lean back more, focus on being a bit less involved and just prevent things getting out of control. Instead he tends to let it get out of control and then boom across everyone with his view, take the applause and then move on. Indeed it was only a few weeks ago that one of his guests did say to him "you always have to be one step away from madness don't you?".
Real Time is good though, don't get me wrong, if it wasn't I would not keep coming back to it. It is not as funny as The Daily Show but it is funny. It is not as balanced and interesting as the This Week with George Stephanopoulos discussions but yet it is still engaging as a political discussion show. I suppose it works somewhere in the middle of the two although even liberals will find Maher's inability to hold back a bit grating and disruptive at times those on the right probably don't need to be told that they'll be upset!
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