Bill Maher on Keeping His Edge, Getting Over the Clintons and Chris Christie Douchebaggery

Bill Maher on Keeping His Edge, Getting Over the Clintons and Chris Christie Douchebaggery

Fresh off his renewal by HBO, the Friday night satirist talks to TheWrap

“Real Time With Bill Maher” was renewed for a 13th season on Wednesday, and the politically charged comedian got on the phone with TheWrap to talk about his favorite topics – Republicans, Democrats and … well, Lena Dunham. The show has grown its audience over time, with 4.1 million viewers per week, according to Nielsen ratings. WaxWord caught up with Maher as he prepped the first Friday night show.

Sharon Waxman: Congratulations on getting renewed.
Bill Maher: Yes, I'll be hanging onto my job for another year.

How do you keep the show fresh at this point, in its 13th year?
I don't have to worry about it, my fodder is the news, it's always changing and different. There's always some idiot Republican stepping forward to make my life easy.

Also read: HBO Renews ‘Real Time With Bill Maher’ for 13th Season

Are you talking about Chris Christie, specifically?
He's the flavor of the week. Last year at this time it was Rick Perry or Michelle Bachman or Ted Cruz or Boehner. Their douchebag bench is deep.

I'm not sure everyone thinks Christie is a douchebag.
Really? Now that's a very charitable opinion of someone who pulled off an instance of vengeance and graft I haven't seen since Godfather 2.

I guess that means you think he's lying.
If he's not lying, he's still guilty of a lot. The reason you hire a Bridget Kelly is because she knows to screw people in the way you would have wanted but not to tell you the specifics. There's a scene in The Godfather 2 where the Senate has a committee that's going to Michael Corleone. One witness says, “Did Michael Corleone ask you to kill anybody?” And the mafioso says “No, the family has a lot of buffers.” Do I think he personally, Chris Christie, said “Tie up traffic?” I don't know if it got that specific. But people that high up wouldn't do that if they didn't think that's what he wanted.

So how is that quest going to get Republicans?
We've got Mary Matalin this week. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is on next week.

Also read: The View’ Debates Bill Maher's ‘Retarded’ Comment About Sarah Palin's Son – Without Hearing It (Video)

Has it gotten any easier to get people right-of-center on the show?
We're doing very well with that. We give people of all stripes a chance to speak. Many times I disappoint my liberal audience by siding with people on the right.

Who's the person you really want to get that you can't?
I used to say Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton, but I'm kind of over them now.

How many times have you asked them?
I'm sure we ask each season. I asked Bill Clinton personally a number of times. I asked him on the air once, on Larry King's last show.

Why won't he do the show?
He's a very talented politician. But he's very thin skinned, really, and doesn't take criticism well, and I call it as a I see it. I voted for him. I defended him endlessly when he was being impeached. Back then we were friends. Anytime he came out to the West Coast I'd be invited to events, I once introduced him at some fundraiser. But I have also said critical things. He's the kind of guy who needs to be adored. If you're not straight on kissing the ass, don't get in the game.

And Hillary Clinton?
That one I understand  a little more. Politicans find my show a little too dangerous to go on. That's when I know I'm doing the right thing. The minute we're not too dangerous to go on, we don't belong on the air and we don't belong on HBO.

So who do you now want and can't get?
That Bridget Kelly (fired Chris Christie aide). I think Obama should hire her.

This is kind of easier than doing a daily political shows right ?
No. I have more pressure. I did a show every night for nine years. When you do a show every day, no one expects it to be fantastic every night. You do what you can, you throw shit against the wall. Every daily show does that. When you do it once a week you better make sure it's pretty fucking great.

I do work much harder on this show than on the daily show. It's live with no commercials for an hour. When I go out Friday night, I have to do comedy monologue, serious newsmaker interview, to panel discussion and the end piece, New Rules. I don't get a break between any of them. Meanwhile I'll get my head into the next thing. I have to be ready to do all of it in a row.

So – New Rules for this Friday night – what's on your mind?
We'll talk Chris Christie. Mary Matalin and James Carville are both on, I find them fascinating. How they've stayed together. I never understood it. I grew up in a family where my mother and father were completely aligned politically. They never disagreed. I always felt politics is extension of your morality. It made it easy for me as a kid. They say in a new book they almost broke up three times, over the election, the Iraq war.

I wanted to ask you about Ronan Farrow, the MSNBC host who tweeted about Woody Allen during the Golden Globes and referenced sexual molestation allegations?
It's an amazing thing to think Frank Sinatra was still banging Mia Farrow in the 1980s. They divorced in 1968. (As for Ronan,) I understand. That was his family. He'll have that point of view. It did disrupt his family life as a child. If I was in his position, I'd have a hard time forgiving Woody Allen.

Do you believe this show is your contribution to American culture?
I hope so. Part of the contribution is when I went on the air in '93 with “Politically Incorrect,” just talking about politics was most toxic thing to do in television. Partly because of what we've done on both those shows, it's not so toxic anymore. Not everyone is watching singing contests.

Well, good luck getting Hilary Clinton. But I'm a little skeptical about Bridget Kelly
We'll ask. It's one phone call. You never know.

Here's Maher's video from TheGrill, a conference held by TheWrap last September:

  • Jimvanhise

    I really like Bill's show but I refuse to watch when Darrell Issa is on. Darrell Issa is an evil man who has never let the truth stand in the way of a political crusade. Even when his own Congressional hearings disprove his premise, he doesn't care and just acts like they never happened and lies through his teeth.

    • hupto

      If everyone started calling him “adjudicated criminal Darrell Issa” (which he is), it might take some of the wind out of his sails. Though I might settle for Witchfinder-General.

      • iyamtoo

        Hm. I'm thinking Witchfinder-General rather generous. Ye great southern pansy!*

        *hoping you are actually referencing “Good Omens.”

        • hupto

          No, actually, Michael Reeves’ acclaimed horror movie “The Witchfinder General” with Vincent Price. Well worth renting.

    • Andrew Moore

      Issa is a filthy example of human depravity. But I like seeing him on there. It reminds me to never underestimate friends and family who lean his way. Bill is dead-on that politics is an extension of morality. None of these (R) figureheads are dumb- even Palin or Bachmann. They simply understand the simple-mindedness and pettiness of their base, and how lucrative leading them can be personally. They are all modern-day PT Barnums.

      • David Kern

        I think Issa does what most politicians do…I hate watching him because his contribution to the discussion stinks

        • Robert Anichini

          Issa is our paid employee and you shouldn't let him get away with his BS. People will think less of you for doing itjust because he helps ratings. We will forgive you for treating Ann Coulter with kid gloves because she is obviously insane. Plus some of think …you are doing her!.:)

  • nvieira

    Oh dear. Who is this terribly incompetent interviewer? I'm embarrassed for her. What did she say she likes to think herself? Business “intellectual”? I think not.

  • joseflores

    This woman looks embarrassingly unprepared, uncomfortable and plain dumb.

  • Muna Ali

    Bill u the only reason im getting HBO tonight .. welcome back we missed u !!

  • forby

    She tries to pass herself off as a Liberal but then tries to pass on a ridiculous rumour that Susan Sarandon asked Bill for a Joint. If she is a true Liberal she would not have asked such a CONSERVATIVE question.

  • forby

    Wow the more I watch this interview the more I wonder what is the point of getting educated when they have such uneducated people interviewing the educated ones.

  • bigtreehugger

    was this her first interview? god, that was painful to watch…

  • b

    What a waste of his time. What does it take to be a “foreign correspondent” etc these days? I'm not usually a hateful digital culture but that was painful and I answered some of those dumb ass questions before he did. And she then just would sit there speechless. He was semi polite but wow she sucked. I guess she sold her boss as a fan but I don't believe her nor her preparation or wit.

  • Craig

    It has been interesting to read the negative comments regarding Sharon Waxman's technique during Bill Mahers “waste of time interview” , Maybe it was less polished than Corporate media but it was insightful. Just to hear Bill Maher talk unscripted about his background and political religion (s) !-) My other thought was, wouldn't be interesting if Sharon Waxman could combine her current media venue with the critical intellectual curiosity that seemed to be bubbling underneath this interview. I felt that there where things she dare not dwell upon. I wonder what would happen if she spent 45 mins exploring 9 /11 or Syria or Stockmarket manipulation ?

  • Roy Heffner

    Was the WRAP mic being upside down on the blonde babe mean anything??

  • R Harper

    Love you, Bill! Welcome back for yet another season!

    • sameolbs

      What do you love best? His nastiness or his godlessness?

  • Blaher

    This interview lost my respect when “douchbaggery” was featured in the title

  • Toby

    One thing you can always count on with the tolerant left…..intolerance.

  • Bill is a joke

    So when the Bengazi scandal broke Bill cried ” I just don't get why this is such a big deal” But closing a bridge for a few hours is the worst thing imaginable?

  • liberals are dumb

    Awful audio, upside down mic flag, pointless lazy camera work, what a joke.

  • Huh-101

    Anybody here ever heard of NDE's? That's when you die, see a review of your life, then for some strange reason, come back again. I would love to see the life reviews of people like Bill Mahr. Knowing him, he'd tell God Himself to wise up or shut up.

  • sameolbs

    Bill Maher is the epitome of douchebaggery.

  • SamyyCiao

    You did not tell the truth go back over the tape on how Bill to Rachael she was harping on Christie to much – you left so much out – your horrible rag!

  • roadrunner

    Bill is very bright and funny at the same time. He says what he thinks and can do it in the typical New Yorker way. He is right about Christie-that was a ‘hostile work environment’ and anyone who quit or was fired in that administration should get a good lawyer and sue. Bill is also very knowledgeable about how the government works in theory and in practice.

  • Jane Doe

    Maher just comes across as so nasty and bitter. He's no longer funny – just sarcastic and snarky.