you might conclude that the dagger-tongued Maher can be, well, a nerd.
for his upbringing. Growing up the son of a Jewish
mother and an Irish Catholic father, he describes it as
“the most classic Beaver Cleaver childhood you could
imagine.” His father, Bill, was a longtime radio/TV
newsman in New York. The New York Times and
Bergen County Record were delivered to the door,
and young Bill devoured every word. Meanwhile,
even though the family was in an all-white community without a hint of racial or social strife, Maher’s
parents imparted many lessons about the importance
of racial equality and inclusiveness, further elevating
Maher’s sophistication about the world.
“Look, we were a classic, European-styled family,”
he says. “We didn’t sit around watching TV at night.
We sat together and talked about stuff. I listened to my
father speak about war and racism and world events,
and that made an impact. In school, I wasn’t into math.
I was into history and social studies.”
That’s when you realize that Maher circa 2007—
older and more reflective than the smarmy smarty-pants he was during the Politically Incorrect days
in the 1990s—is the one with whom Maher is more
comfortable. Real Time has clearly reinvigorated him.
And, no, it’s not because he can drop the F-bomb
whenever he wants to because it’s on HBO. Sure, he
can get away with anything now—just check out his
savage anti-Bush parody of the “Head On” commercial—but there’s something else about Real Time that
Maher finds thrilling.
“It’s much more exhilarating to come up with the
guest panel that we do on this show,” he says. “For
Politically Incorrect, we had to do it every night, and