Comedian Bill Maher Comments On Maui’s Monsanto Predicament
By Vanessa Wolf
Arguably the most outspoken – if not the bravest – comedian in the business, Bill Maher brings his droll political observations to Maui this New Year’s Day.
His annual Aloha Live Stand Up Tour is now in its fourth year and offers ticketholders the opportunity to experience his unparalleled and unflinching moxie live and in person this Thursday at 8 p.m. in the MACC’s Castle Theater.
Can’t wait that long?
Maher gave us 13 minutes and 42 seconds of his undivided attention during a conversation that spanned from Sean Penn to Monsanto.
Maui Now: This will be your fourth year coming to Maui and the islands for your annual Aloha Live Stand Up tour slash paid vacation.
Bill Maher: That’s right. I’m the New Year’s guy!
MN: Speaking of which, obviously you’re not a religious kind of guy, but are you a resolutions kind of guy?
BM: Yes. My biggest resolution this year is to do the ones I made in 1984.
MN: Did they involve Blondie and cocaine? What would those be?
Yep. That’s right. You know me too well.
Seriously though, I’m gonna be 59 – I don’t know how that ever f#@king happened – in January. I think at this point in your life if you haven’t gotten to the things you were going to get to, you’re probably not ever going to get to them. In other words, I am not a resolutions guy.
MN: So no resolutions, but a return to the Hawaiian islands at least. Reflecting back on the last three years of your Aloha tour, what has been the single most memorable moment of those trips?
BM: I think it was last year in Honolulu when Eddie Vedder opened the show for me, and Michael Moore and Sean Penn did the introduction.
It was incredibly exciting that they all wanted to participate.
MN: How did that come about specifically?
BM: I brought Michael with me and Sean and Eddie come every year. They’re big surfers and are already on Oahu.
Specifically, I think it started when Eddie came to me before the show and asked, “What would you think if I played a couple songs?”
What a wonderful surprise.
MN: It appears your Maui posse is really slacking. I don’t recall Woody Harrelson on stage or, say, Steven Tyler singing any songs.
BM: I’m working on that! Unfortunately, Woody is not going to be on Maui this New Year’s – he’s working – but he always comes to the show and traditionally I go out to his house the next day. Hopefully next year I can convince him to do something on stage.
I just have to get him stoned, really. It shouldn’t be too hard.
MN: Over the last few years of speaking with you, it’s become clear that you have a lot of well-known friends that you visit or hang with while on the islands, but there is one Maui semi-resident who has been glaringly absent from the list. Where do you stand with Oprah?
BM: Well, Oprah and I are not that close. I wouldn’t hold your breath for that one.
MN: Recap: no resolutions, no Oprah.
In another vein, as we head into the new year, what would you say was your most memorable moment of 2014?
BM: I think the highlight for me was trying to unseat a congressman. We had the Flip a District campaign and although we did not succeed – it was a pretty overwhelming Republican tide this 2014 election – at least we tried.
We got in the game and we made our case to people that it is in their hands to do this sort of thing. We came up a little short, but maybe next time.
MN: Similarly, you may have heard that Maui had its own “power of the people” moment with respect to passing a bill calling for the suspension on the growth, testing and cultivation of GMO crops here in Maui County?
BM: All I can say to the folks on Maui who were a part of this is “You go, girl!” That’s fantastic. I’m jealous. We tried to do something like that in California a couple years ago.
In that case, we weren’t asking Monsanto to change anything. We were just asking that they let us know: Give us the information, label the products, so we can decide for ourselves.
Well, of course, a company like Monsanto, which owns all the great lobbyists in the world, went to work and they convinced people that it would cost them more money at the grocery store.
It was a disingenuous and dishonest thing to say, but it worked and people voted it down.
But we’ll be back again.
These things always take more than one time – medical marijuana, legal marijuana, gay marriage – it takes a while before people get used to an idea. They’ll get used to this, and we’ll have success.
MN: On this end, the bill is moving to federal court. The giant is awake, as it were. From your own firsthand experience ruffling political feathers, do you have any advice you can share?
BM: Get a good lawyer!
You have got to fight these people on their own turf with their own tools. You can’t fight them singing Kumbaya.
Monsanto is – from my point of view – the most evil company in the world and that’s saying something in a world that also includes ExxonMobil, pharmaceutical companies, defense department companies and all sorts of merchants of death.
Monsanto has the potential to REALLY f#@k with all of us.
And they’re ruthless. They’re the Scientologists of the corporate world. I worry a lot about Monsanto, honestly, and I suppose my advice would be don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.
Hungry for more of Maher’s fearless observations?