First of all, a confession: I probably agree with 90% of Bill's Maher's political/ideological positions, so the piddling complaints that follow aren't the result of any fundamental difference in philosophy or political doctrine.
As far as I'm concerned, Bill Maher's view of the world is very much in synch with my own. In fact, if he and I were to sit down at a neighborhood bar (I with a cheap domestic beer, he with a top-of-the-line reefer) and discuss politics, we could very likely go a whole hour without a single meaningful dispute.
My beef is more "personal" than ideological, more about "style" than "substance." Alas, it seems that somewhere along the line Mr. Bill Maher has fallen hopelessly in love with himself. This has altered his act, and not in a good way. As a consequence of that high self-regard, he now comes off as some sort of a "latter day prophet" or elder statesman rather than a stand-up comic.
With all due respect, here are 3 things I wish Bill would do:
1. Grab on to a little humility, dude. You're funny, you're quick, you're entertaining, but you're no comedic or political genius. Mort Sahl, Richard Pryor and George Carlin were geniuses. As talented as you are, you ain't one of those guys. Also, didn't Mort Sahl, George Carlin and Richard Pryor write their own material? At the end of your HBO show we see listed the names of 6-8 co-writers. Show a little modesty.
2. Don't be such an obvious "applause whore." It is so damned annoying to watch you stop talking--to stop delivering your jokes and come to a complete halt--so long as even one person in the audience is still applauding. It makes you look insecure and weirdly "needy."
You should do what Jimmy Kimmel does during his monologue. Understandably not wanting to have his next joke drowned out by applause, Kimmel will wait a moment for the applause to die down after a particularly funny remark.
But one thing Kimmel doesn't do is destroy the pace. He doesn't stand there waiting for that one appreciative guy in Row 3 to stop clapping before continuing. He keeps it going, which is what you need to do, Bill. Stop milking it.
3. Also, in the same vein, don't look at the audience with dismay or disapproval when they don't laugh at a particular gag or when, God forbid, they actually boo or groan at something you say. Again, not only does that make you seem prickly and unnecessarily "desperate," it disrupts the flow; it alters the mood.
You need to remind yourself that this is a comedy show, not a townhall meeting, political convention or self-improvement seminar. Instead of "challenging" or scolding the audience (and I've seen you do this too many times) when they appear to disagree or underappreciate one of your gags, you need to keep your shtick rolling.
Finally, you have to remind yourself that, as perceptive, well informed and sharp as you may be (and you are all of those things), you are not a philosopher. You are not an icon and you're not a fountain of wisdom. In the final analysis you're a comic, and a damned good one. Basically, you need to channel Shecky Greene rather than Walter Lippman. Is that too much to ask?