The New New Rules
A Funny Look at How Everybody but Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass
From the New York Times bestselling author and host of HBO’s Real Time, Bill Maher’s latest collection of political riffs and savagely funny suggestions for preserving sanity in an insane world.
New Rule: The next Republican Convention must be held in a giant closet. Every week there’s a new gay Republican outed. I have a feeling that “big tent” they’re always talking about is in their pants. There are so many Republicans in the closet, their symbol shouldn’t be an elephant; it should be a moth.
New Rule: If one of your news organization’s headlines is about who got kicked off Dancing with the Stars last night, you’re no longer a news organization. Sort of like, if you were on Dancing with the Stars last night, you’re no longer a star.
Media, celebrity, Democrats, Republicans, religion, children, marine life, electronics, that couple making out in the next booth—when it comes to lighting up his targets, Bill Maher is an equal-opportunity destroyer. The New New Rules offers Maher’s new and best-loved observations about the world around us, along with some modest tips for its improvement. Because wouldn’t life be a little better if the inside of the office microwave didn’t look like a Jackson Pollock painting, or if fathers stopped signing up their nine-year-olds to win free hunting trips? Scathingly funny and relentlessly unafraid of sensitive topics, Maher’s hilarious brand of realism is more welcome and necessary than ever. So sit back, read on, and enjoy. You may not agree with all his views, but one thing’s for certain: If you’re listening, you’re laughing.
New Rule: People who read a book’s foreword are anal. Especially this book’s foreword. It’s a joke book. What am I supposed to say? “Enjoy”? “Don’t spill your Mr Pibb”? “Careful not to get a paper cut”? If you need a pep talk or some insight from me before diving in, maybe you’re not ready for word books. Maybe you should stick to the kind of books that have pictures you can color.
Okay, I’m sorry. It’s more than just a joke book, and I’m glad you took a moment to check in with me before proceeding. What you’re holding is a collection of hundreds of my favorite New Rules and essays, some performed on the show and many others never before seen on TV—not because they suck, but for a variety of reasons, like: (a) it’s a particularly filthy, dirty, potty-mouthed rule about fetish porn or edible panties or rhinoceros scrotums, and that week there was someone on our panel who would be appalled by it, like a congressman from a conservative district, or a clergyman. Or, you know, a woman.
Or (b) it might have been a terrific New Rule, but that week we had other good ones on the same subject. Although we have our share of viewers who are news junkies, I treat the show that we do live on Friday night as a catch-up show for those who might not have had the time during the week to see the news, because they work hard, have hobbies, or forgot to use birth control a couple of times in the ’90s. So I try to cover as many of the important subjects as possible, either in the monologue, with the guests, or in the New Rules, and so it’s survival of the fittest by topic.
Or (c) sometimes I read my writers’ New Rules submissions completely baked and just picked the wrong ones.
As for the essays—or what we call our “editorial”—which are the much longer final New Rules that conclude the show: I can’t lie, there are no new ones here; they were all done on the air. But, I must immodestly say, I think a lot of them bear repeating. They take three minutes to read on air, but I spend six or eight hours over the course of the week writing and editing them to get a show-ender that, I hope, both makes a unique point and does so in a funny way. It’s the part of the show I’m most proud of and that I don’t think you can see anywhere else on television. So please don’t read this part of the book on the toilet or you’ll break my heart.
And please know I’m not one of these celebrities who puts out a book every year or so to try and cash in on my fans’ love and loyalty. That’s what my line of meat marinades is for. And my Real Time, Real Smooth scented personal lubricant, now available at Walgreens.
I realize some celebrity books are like gnats or Anthony Weiner’s penis, relentlessly coming at you and constantly in your face. My books are more like cicadas. They come out in longer intervals, Christians consider them a plague, and there’s always at least one kid in the neighborhood who will eat one on a dare.
I try to make each book special. My last one was published in 2005, and the one before that in 2002. I think most men experience this: The older you get, the more time it takes you between releases.
So welcome to The New New Rules: A Funny Look at How Everybody but Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass, the second installment in my New Rules trilogy. I’m glad you picked it up, and I think you’ll find it quite enlightening, especially chapter 7, where I describe in detail how Levi Johnston plied me with watermelon wine coolers and took my virginity in a tent. The sad part: Part of me still loves him.
Now, about the subtitle, A Funny Look at How Everybody but Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass. Truth is, I didn’t even want to have a subtitle, but the publisher said these days in the book world it was de rigueur, like using a French phrase somewhere in the first ten pages to show you’re a real “writer.” The first New Rules book carried the subtitle Polite Musings from a Timid Observer, which cracked me up, but when promoting the book, I can count on my penis the number of times a morning deejay got the joke. You see, Fartface and Asshole Jack, I’m not really a timid observer, and my musings are known to be somewhat less than . . . oh, never mind.
So I took a more literal approach this time: “Everybody but me has their head up their ass”—I think we all feel that way sometimes! And that’s why New Rules resonate with so many. They call out our fellow humans, providing that tug on the leash that urges them back to civil behavior. New Rules put a voice to life’s gripes, everything from the petty annoyance of that little sticker on your supermarket plum to the brazen injustice of a Supreme Court that sides almost solely with corporations over individuals. Plus, it’s the segment on my show when the panelists have to shut up and I get to talk.
As we approach the presidential election of 2012, it seems we need New Rules now more than ever. They’re an attempt, albeit through humor, to bring at least some semblance of order to a world gone haywire. Do you realize we are currently overlooking the threat of climate change, which is more likely to be the end of us than anything else, while actively passing legislation to protect us from Sharia law? That’s like ignoring the crack-head jimmying open your back door to confront the monster your toddler hears under her bed. Sure, you’ve assuaged a little girl’s unfounded fear, but now you’ve got Tom Sizemore in your kitchen.
That’s what this book is more than anything else: a pleasant, funny diversion, something to make you laugh while the earth slowly fries and suffocates in drought, wildfires, and eventual flooding that will engulf us all. I’m sorry, I meant it’s fantastic beach reading and a terrific stocking stuffer.
While our politicians place personal power before patriotism, my New Rules are a call to consensus. They provide much-needed structure in an ever-changing world. And why not? We all live by rules, whether codified or implied. We adopt them through common sense (on the airplane, we’ll exit row by row), common courtesy (at the gas station, we pull up to the far pump, so someone can pull in behind us), or experience (when sharing a cell, the bigger man gets his choice of bunks).
And then there are those rules we must simply learn for ourselves. For instance, when you’re out shopping, you have to actually buy something. You can’t just browse around endlessly, sniffing the merchandise and saying, “Mmm, I’m in heaven.” Believe me, I’ve tried this, and eventually they ask you to leave the dispensary.
Finally, a word about time. I’m against it. Especially now that it seems to pass more quickly than ever. The world of 2005, when the first New Rules came out, seems as distant as Michele Bachmann’s gaze when she talks about lightbulbs. We now have the iPad, Braille porn, cars that park themselves, and a new badass president who shoots pirates and terrorists in the face. Plus, the AMC network no longer shows just old movies. In paging through my previous New Rules book—and you really should pick it up; you wouldn’t go see Twilight: Eclipse without having seen Twilight: New Moon, would you?—I couldn’t help laughing at some of the new fads or conventions I poked fun at then, which are completely mainstream now. I railed on, for example, about the weirdos who walk around talking into those strange Bluetooth devices, and, of course, now Bluetooths come factory-installed on infants.
So enjoy these New New Rules now, while they’re fresh. Because I find the world is changing much more quickly than I can bitch about it.
“One of the establishment’s most entertaining critics.” — The New York Times
“Pundit Bill Maher courts controversy you say? He calls it telling the truth.” — Entertainment Weekly
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