If you can remember back a decade or so, there once was a time, before he was a talk show host, when Bill Maher was just a stand-up comedian who had some mildly funny routines. For example he poked fun of his own mixed family heritage of a Jewish mother and Irish father. He would imagine a time when he might go to confession and say, "Bless me father for I have sinned, and I would like to introduce my attorney Mr. Cohen." It was a humor that many people could laugh at but it did not back then depend on any shared political viewpoint in order to "get" the joke.
But in recent years, Maher the talk show host has developed a very hard and bitter edge to his "humor" where he no longer just pokes fun at some eccentric religious practice, but he openly mocks God and all religious faith including the two traditions he was exposed to growing up. There are two issues in the sad collapse of Maher as a comedian. One is that many younger comedians on the Left fail to understand that the best humor is universallly appreciated by many people with all types of views. But some comics go for the cheap shot at the expense of anyone who is not far Left in the same way that they go for the foul-mouth approach. These "tools" are crutch for a comic who has bad material and needs a cheap laugh.
The second issue is that on TV, virulent anti-Christian prejudice is the last safe form of bigotry. Radical Islam if off limits to comics who are afraid to offend their far Left peers and who might also fear reprisals. But anti-Christian jokes are socially approved of in the Leftwing Hollywood subculture so comedians think that is the way to advance their careers regardless if anyone is laughing or not.
The shame is that comedians who are great at their craft understand that political fashions come and go and that a long-term career is best helped by universal humor that relates to audiences of all different backgrounds. The problems that people have in life are mostly the same regardless of political outlooks. The comedian who makes a joke is often asking the question, do you remember this? Do you remember when this family problem came up and how we all stumbled? This is humor at its best and it usually has little to do with political preferences unless it is wry commentary on all politicians or the process. Will Rodgers once said, "I don't belong to any organized political party, I'm a Democrat." Both parties would laugh but Democrats would laugh first and hardest at their own expense.
Thomas Babington McCaulay of Soctland once told the House of Commons, "Reform?" Why do we want reform? Things are bad enough already." Rodgers also once said that, "In spite of every attempt of the American people to be fair, evrery once in a while an innocent person is sentenced to a term in the state legislature."
There is a pattern about good humor, it often springs from good will. Not only does the best humor appeal to a wide cross section of people, it also remains timeless across many years. In 2012 we can still what H.L. Mencken was saying in 1925 when he said that "Democracyy is the system where a majority says what they want and they deserve to get it good and hard."Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule--and both commonly succeed, and are right... The United States has never developed an aristocracy really disinterested or an intelligentsia really intelligent. Its history is simply a record of vacillations between two gangs of frauds.