Bill Maher at the St. Charles Family Arena is about as oxymoronic as it gets. As a member of the audience [April 15, 2012], I dug his irreverent, cynical, no-holds-barred take on American life and politics. But I must say that I was puzzled by the choice of venue. I didn’t know they allowed anyone to use the “f” word in the Family Arena even once—let alone the dozens of times Maher said it and graphically described the act itself. I guess the booking fee and the prospect of a profitable show [tickets started at about $40 and went way up from there] can help one get over one’s objections to objectionable material, eh?
And there was plenty to object to, if you’re a churchgoer, or any kind of Republican —which obviously I’m not–or even someone who can find no fault with President Obama.
In his trademark, drippingly sarcastic tone, Maher took on Mitt Romney [“He wants to run government like a business? Does he know that most businesses fail in the first four years?”], Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and the entire spectrum of Republican candidates and voters [“know-nothings, many of whom think Darwin was the husband on Bewitched”]. His well-known anti-religion views were on full display, too. He savaged the Catholic church, the Pope and the Bishops [“men who go to work in dunce caps and dresses] and religion in general. [“My main question to believers is, ‘How do you know?’Christians believe that when you die, you’ll go to Heaven, and Jesus will be sitting on the right side of God. Of course, we know this because we have the seating chart, right? And about those 72 virgins for Islamic suicide bombers: why not 73 or 71? How do you know?’”]
I wasn’t surprised by Maher’s style, or his topics, or his views. What surprised me was that about 2,500 Maher sympathizers came to the show. Obviously, Maher’s management team knows its market, and they had already figured out that there would be an audience. But I’m sure that a lot of the audience must have come from zip codes other than those in the St. Charles area [although the biggest cheer of the evening came in response to Maher’s comments about meth labs—a generally exurban pursuit.] And I must say that I was pleasantly surprised that leftie-type Maher enthusiasts—many of whom reside in zip codes closer to St. Louis’ “divine spine”—were actually willing to venture not just west of Lindbergh Blvd., but also west of I-270 and across the Missouri River. I guess, in a not-funny-at-all, Fox News-dominated world, we’re so starved for comedic balance that we’ll drive right out of our comfort zones to find it.