terrific one-liners and an edge that can't be touched
Putting aside the obvious side that might come for the die-hard fans of Bill Maher- or rather those that watch Real Time each week it comes on- that some of the material present in The Decider was first spoken on the show, what's most impressive about this special is the flow of one subject to the next. As with Maher's other specials, particularly Victory Begins at Home, Maher has a well-rounded point to get at, but surrounds it cleverly with all of the subjects that need to be there for his delivery to work.
His task at hand (as if the title weren't a given) is the Bush administration, with W much of the time revealed (shock) as a total incompetent nut-bar who gets talks from God and will have to, according to Maher, walk back to Texas once his term ends. The topics range mostly out to the wretchedly strange obsession with sex in America, with male inadequacies talked at length (it's hilarious to hear a recounting of a thug killer and kidnapper surrender after a ten hour talk down from Ashley Smith, his female kidnapee), and of course bits of info regarding the 'pills' (Rain-dance anyone?). But of course with the republicans in craze over gay marriage as an issue, and the abstinence pledges (this ends up coming back around, some pun intended, with the final tale told of a certain doctor in the administration who wasn't too keen on raping his wife at night (which hole, who knows?)
Maher makes a lot of his timing based around a cynical view of politics (eg Rudy may very well be president), abortion, the environment, and cronyism, and the ultimate clutter-f*** that is Iraq. But so much of it ends up ringing true, not just because of the facts at hand- where else will you hear such stories of the real crock that are the lobbyists of Washington- but because of the sincerity in the approach to the material. A lot of time Maher ends up laughing himself at what he's saying, as if he truly can't believe some of the stuff that's actually happening in this country (watch as he is perpetually embarrassed at the pile of crap that keeps coming with the administration and its 'Decider').
It might seem smarmy on first sight, but seeing Maher perform after a while, even if it's material heard before (he actually did the "seven minutes" bit better in the I'm Swiss special), is getting an audience riled up, and laughing, at stuff that is unbelievable. It is, ultimately, smart topical stand-up of an order that can only be on HBO. One other great one-liner: "A brain-dead woman gave birth to a baby, congrats Britney!"
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