Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Bully Liberals Want in the Trump Era; by Nate Monroe

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Bully Liberals Want in the Trump Era; by Nate Monroe

Article excerpt

Byline: nate.monroe@jacksonville.com

Bill Maher

When Bill Maher last stopped in Jacksonville in 2014, Barack Obama was president and the city had a Democratic mayor in office.

Now, the politically incorrect comedian has a few more axes to grind, and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry might be on the list. Maher, after all, likes to study up a bit on the local politics of a city before he performs a show.

"I'm surprised Jacksonville has a Republican mayor," he said in a recent interview.

That's Maher in a nutshell: The bully liberals want and need in this Donald Trump era. And it's a role he's happy to play.

"They want someone to be as mean to Trump as he is to the world," Maher said. "They need the mean."

The host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" will bring his signature brand of left-leaning, expletive-laden comedy to the Florida Theater on Saturday. Jacksonville is just the kind of place Maher likes to play: a city smack-dab in Red America, with the added bonus that it's in Florida.

"Florida is always the ultimate microcosm of America," he said. "It has every kind of Democrat. It has religious nuts, gun nuts, generic, obese suburbanites."

It's also run by Gov. Rick Scott ("He runs strictly on mental synapses").

Maher has made a habit of traveling to red states for his comedy act, where he says there is always a well of liberal fans craving "the mean." But Maher is also a realist.

"I'm playing the city. I wouldn't drive an hour outside of where the theater is and try to run my act by the good old boys at the redneck bar," he said.

It's likely even cold comfort for local Republicans that Maher was pulling for the Jaguars to beat the Patriots -- a team he views as a proxy for Trump, who has bragged in the past about his friendship with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

The president will almost certainly be the main target of Maher's comedy, and not just because of his politics. Trump once filed a lawsuit against Maher after the comedian called on him to prove he was not the spawn of an orangutan (a play on Trump's belief, which he reluctantly renounced in 2016, that Obama was not born in America). …

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