America, we're told, has been enjoying a golden age of news satire. This is largely attributed to Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, less largely to the show that followed it on Comedy Central, The Colbert Report, hosted by Stephen Colbert. The two shows developed a unique rivalry: Colbert the showman to Stewart's slightly more dour news anchor. It was a rare pairing in which two shows worked as a double act. Often the jokes of one show continued into the next, the hosts appearing in each other's studio on a regular basis. They worked beautifully together.
Yet beyond Comedy Central, American satire had already been doing well. For decades, Bill Maher has been hosting shows that have been harder, meaner, and often funnier than his mainstream rivals.