William “Bill” Maher, Jr. is an American comedian, actor, writer, and producer. Maher was born in New York City and grew up in River Vale, New Jersey. He graduated from Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, New Jersey, which he attended with fellow commentator Keith Olbermann. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Cornell University in 1978.
Maher began his career as a stand-up comedian hosting the New York City comedy club Catch a Rising Star in 1979. Thanks to Steve Allen, he began appearing on Johnny Carson and David Letterman’s shows in 1982. His feature film debut was in D.C. Cab (1983), and he has also appeared in Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1988) and Pizza Man (1991). He played a lead role in sci-fi film Out of Time (1988) and also appeared in a number of guest roles on television shows, including Murder, She Wrote, Roseanne, and Married…with Children .
Maher is most notable as the former host of Politically Incorrect, which aired on the Comedy Central television network and later ABC. Maher is also currently the host of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO. On June 1, 2006, he also began hosting an internet-exclusive talk show on Amazon.com entitled Amazon Fishbowl. Bill Maher’s political satire and sociopolitical commentary targets a wide swath of topics, from the right-wing to left-wing, bureaucracies, political correctness, Hollywood, the mass media, and persons in positions of high political and social power, among many others topics.
Born to a Jewish mother and Catholic father, Maher remains agnostic but open to the idea that God exists. Maher has stated on both Politically Incorrect and Real Time , and in several appearances on Larry King Live that he does, indeed, believe in God, but that organized religion is nothing more than tradition and superstition. He asserts that organized religion provides answers to questions that “cannot possibly be answered”. Questions such as “Where do I go when I die?” or “Is there a heaven?” he says, are impossible to answer. By claiming to have the answers, Maher argues, organized religion is dishonest and it “stops people from thinking”.
Bill Maher is well known for his libertarian views, not only on religion but has also been outspoken in his support of ending the war on drugs. Maher is the only celebrity figure who makes regular public statements like “The Partnership for a Drug-Free America really isn’t for a drug-free America. It’s a lobbying arm for the liquor and prescription drug industries.” During his speech, at the NORML conference in San Francisco, Maher outed some fellow celebrities. “There are a lot of prominent people,” said Maher, “I’m not going to mention any names—Harrison Ford, Ted Turner—who smoke a lot of pot and need to stand up!”
Bill Maher is a current and active board member of the Marijuana Policy Project, an organization that works to minimize the harm associated with marijuana—both the consumption of marijuana, and the laws that are intended to prohibit such use. He is also a member on NORML’s Advisory Board, a nation wide organization that also supports the decriminalization of marijuana.