"Unlike many people who try to joke about politics, Bill Maher has the distinction of being extremely funny. Even if you disagree with his opinions (as I do when he talks about religion--I happen to believe that religious not only is compatible with leftist thinking, but that the New Testament promotes it), he is very, very funny. Anyone who has seen POLITICALLY INCORRECT or his current show REAL TIME have repeatedly seen those who stand as far to the right as possible laughing their heads off as Maher makes one quip after another. There is no denying that he is a funny, funny man, and he is very funny in this comedy routine, a routine that originally appeared on HBO as a comedy special.
Maher is also, unfortunately, one of the most astute political commentators in America. I say unfortunately because, as Jon Stewart has repeatedly pointed out, there is something extremely sad about two of the finest political analysts in America being comedians. In fact, the only two political columnists I consistently rate above Maher and Stewart for depth of insight are Paul Krugman and E. J. Dionne. Typically, Maher is perceived as being very far to the left, but that is actually somewhat a freak of the times. At many points in the history of the U.S. he would probably be perceived as being much further to the right. He is in many regards, as he often points out himself, a classic libertarian, though without the utopian mania about the blessings that a completely unfettered free market would generate. But he is in many regards pretty much a classic Jeffersonian. Jefferson famously wrote in his NOTES ON VIRGINIA: "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. In neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." In context Jefferson wrote trying to limit the extent of government in people's lives, but today we see a vast number of people who want to extend the intrusion of religion into goverment because they do feel that policy decisions with which they disagree do in fact do them harm. Gay marriage is the classic example of this. Maher finds this lamentable, and he articulates this over and over. Essentially, he is calling for the same kind of tolerance that Jefferson advocated so strongly. This is not an especially left wing position: Barry Goldwater disliked the rise of the Reaganites because he saw them as meddling too much in the moral lives of individuals.
If intolerance of individual opinion is one of Maher's targets, another is stupidity. He is brilliant at identifying nonsense and characterizing it as such. He is also unswerving in calling a dime a dime. For instance, he points out the cowardly lack of courage shown by the media for referring to Strom Thurmond's fathering a child by a black servant in the 1925 Jim Crow South Carolina as "having an affair," as if and 18-year-old black servant had any choice in the matter. Maher calls it what it almost certainly was: rape.
But as he calls our attention to one political issue after another, Maher laces it with humor. So, in the end there are two very good reasons to see this, first to be entertained, and second to be informed. Either reason would be sufficient on its own, but together they make this a must-see."
Maher's a genius, but this is quite different than his "Vict
tomjonesrocks | San Diego, CA | 11/30/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"After seeing Maher's brilliant "Be More Cynical" and "Victory Begins at Home" performances, (as well as the home-run "New Rules" segments on HBO's Real Time), I found "I'm Swiss" to be a comedic disappointment. That is, if this is even intended to be a comedy show.
Maher's views are a much appreciated departure from the lock-step drivel spewed by our conservative media, but billed as a comedy show (if that's how it is billed), this performance falls remarkably short. Maher's previous DVDs are both thought provoking and hilarious, while "I'm Swiss" is merely thought provoking. It's not so awkward that you're squirming in your seat when the laughs don't come as you would with other comedians--in fact there's probably very few comedians that could really do a show like this. Maher proves he doesn't have to be funny to be watchable. But ultimately this becomes a "spoken word" performance for Maher--for better or for worse--and therefore I have to conclude it's also really not material for the uninitiated. If you're already familiar with Maher's genius, you'll probably like this--but laugh-out-loud funny it is not.
On perhaps a "positive" note (depending on your viewpoint) Maher steers unusually clear of the topic of women on this DVD. So perhaps this content will go over easier with those who on previous releases may have been quick to characterize Maher as a misogynist or be easily offended. Personally I missed that material as there's really no one out there who speaks as Maher does on these types of topics, but he sticks almost entirely to politics on this one."
I think I'm Swiss too.
Stephan P. Walker | Saint Louis Park, Minnesota USA | 07/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a fan of Bill Maher for a long time. So when I bought "I'm Swiss," I had a vague idea of what to expect from him. It is Bill Maher after all! I know all about his politics and his usual routines, but this special was way more than I expected. Not only is he extremely funny, but he hits hard and makes many good points about the state of the country in which we live. It is just too good! Even my mom, who has seen all of his other work, said that this is his best special by far. Longer too, running about 90 minutes give or take ten. If you find the society in which we live here in America embarrasing then pick this up, laugh until you pass out, and then decide for yourself whether or not youi're Swiss too."
Brilliant commentary on our times
Gillian B. Cieri | West Palm Beach, FL | 12/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even if this DVD is not a laugh a minute, Maher's astute commentary and ability to say out loud so much of what I have been thinking for the past year (!) make this performance wonderfully entertaining. I know that there must be people out there who think the way he does as well, as I can't be Maher's only fan. Don't get me wrong...there are plenty of laughs. He just takes his time in setting up jokes and also gives some lengthy explanations and opinions, all welcome in my view. I was never bored watching this. Bush fans be warned: this DVD is not for you. Maher gives me hope at a time when I had begun to think that I am living in a place where no one thinks as I do, and I actually clapped to the television several times. Ridiculous I know, but I have only my dogs and cats as witnesses."
Hunterann Andrews | San Diego, CA, USA | 11/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What can I say but this: He is witty, humorous, and has many great points. You don't have to agree or disagree to find this a refreshing show."