Known for his trademark political satire and sociopolitical commentary, Bill Maher has been a staple of late-night television for nearly 3 decades. He targets many topics including religion, political correctness, and the mass media. His career started to pick up steam in the 1980s, with Maher touring as a comedian and appearing on shows such as ‘Late Night with David Letterman.’ Then, in 1993, he got his big break after he started 'Politically Incorrect' on the cable channel Comedy Central. On the show, Maher and a panel of celebrity guests cracked wise while griping about government, religion, and human stupidity in general. A hit on Comedy Central, it was picked up by ABC in 1997, and ran until the summer of 2002. In 2003, the show was transferred over to HBO under the new name 'Real Time with Bill Maher.' Maher’s knack for getting laughs while raising eyebrows has kept the show a perennial Emmy nominee, and the comic provocateur keeps his name in the papers with occasional outrageous remarks. Maher's critical views of religion were the basis for the 2008 documentary film ‘Religulous.’ Additionally, he is a supporter of animal rights, having served on the board of PETA since 1997, and is an advisory board member of Project Reason. In 2005, Maher ranked at number 38 on Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Stand-up Comedians of All Time. In 2010, he received a Hollywood Walk of Fame star.
In addition to his many professional accomplishments, Maher also boasts a Cornell University education. He attended the school in the mid-1970's, the same time as fellow left-leaning broadcaster Keith Olbermann. At Cornell, however, Maher felt like an outsider who was never really comfortable on campus. He also started selling marijuanna in order to subsidize his own smoking habits while an undergraduate. Unfortunately, Cornell was not a great fit for Maher, who said, "I got an excellent education, and that’s all I got from it. If I had to do it over again, or I had known what Cornell had been like, I never would have gone there.” Still, Maher graduated with Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and history in 1978.
Despite the pundit's ambiguous relationship with his alma mater, Maher has also made some very notable appearances on campus since he graduated. In 1996, he returned to Cornell as the guest of honor for a student-run presentation called "An Evening with Bill Maher." Members of the Cornell community could also catch Maher in 2008 when he returned to perform his standup comedy at Barton Hall. However, university leaders should not be too optimistic about receiving any donations from their infamous alumnus. In 2012, while shooting an episode of his HBO talk show, Maher claimed that he had never given Cornell any money, explaining that the university has enough money already.