He waited for the shouts of "Trump is a whiny little bitch" to subside—the line has become something of a catchphrase—and then went into his routine.
Heavy on international politics, it included one of his favorite chestnuts: "Islam believes in peace.
He asked if there were any conservatives in the audience, which skewed white and rowdy.
A guy in a Tommy Bahama–style shirt raised his hand."How was the drive up from Orange County? The crowd laughed, unaware that Martin would use the same joke the next week.
"I told Hugh a long time ago that the Playboy channel should be airing shows like " Maher said, in a flat monotone that works surprisingly well as a comic instrument.
Maher put down a binder of jokes and turned to Mark Monto, his gray-haired security guy, who is also a former pilot."We're going to be okay, right?
A few weeks later, Maher would answer a joke by Nebraska senator Ben Sasse with a similarly tone-deaf response.
When Sasse extended an invitation to come work in Nebraska's fields, Maher playacted surprise and said, "I'm a house nigger." Whereas the Pocahontas remark prompted another round of an ancient Internet dispute—whether Maher is a misogynist, a dick, or a fearless political savant—the comment to Sasse sparked universal outrage.
He finished his routine by urging a standing ovation for Maher, who blew a kiss to the audience as he moved toward his mark on the stage.'s format is a throwback to a seventies talk show—with a monologue, an interview, a panel discussion, some jokes, and a closing argument—but here everything is done without the benefit of breath-catching commercial breaks.
This setup sometimes leads to what can feel, in the moment, like a random car wreck, but Maher's been doing comedy for forty years.