TheGrill: Bill Maher on Why He'll Never Win an Emmy – Not ‘If You're Gonna Be the Brave One’ (Video)

Maher also extols the virtues of flip-flopping in a wide-ranging conversation with TheWrap's Sharon Waxman

Bill Maher has always been straightforward — including about why he’s not the guy who wins Emmy Awards.

“If you’re really gonna be the brave one, you’re not going to win the awards,” Maher said Monday night at TheWrap’s Media Leadership Conference, The Grill. “Pissing people off has a lot to do with losing.”

The host of “Real Time With Bill Maher” — which has been nominated for 10 variety series Emmy Awards without winning — made it clear that his unapologetically lefty and anti-religious leanings were the reason he’s become essentially the Susan Lucci of cable political discourse (including “Politically Incorrect,” he’s garnered 32 unconverted nominations).

“Look, lots of people hate it when you’re anti-religion in a religious country,” said Maher, who lost this year to “The Colbert Report,” after a decade of suffering wins by Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.”

Also read: Emmys: Forget Susan Lucci – Bill Maher Is the Winningest Loser

Jonathan Alcorn

Jonathan Alcorn

Before the Emmys became a topic, Maher and TheWrap's editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman’s spirited sparring at the conference keynote Monday night focused on evolution — not the Creationism-vs.-science kind he’s fond of debating, but the idea that it’s a good thing to change your mind when the evidence compels it.

Maher defended Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who was painted by GOP opponents as a notorious flip-flopper during the 2004 campaign.

“He wasn’t flip-flopping on the Viet Cong, I’ll tell you that,” Maher said, while praising Obama for a recent change of heart.

“Obama just did it with Syria,” he said. “He changed his mind. I’m glad he did. He changed because Syria put something on the table that wasn’t there before. Isn’t that a better outcome?”

While conference attendees finished up dinners of tender beef loin and asparagus, Waxman and Maher chewed the fat on the outdoor stage, touching on a range of topics that largely centered on their most intensely shared interest — politics.

Waxman solicited an honest assessment of President Obama from Maher, who — in the discussion’s spirit of nuance — offered both praise and criticism of the second-term president.

“Well, he can’t do everything at once,” Maher said. “He came into office with the worst economy since FDR and the Great Depression … it wasn’t just a bad economy, it was a tire fire. Bush left a flaming pile of dogshit on the White House steps.”

On the other hand, Maher lamented Obama’s continuation of “the drug war, and he’s been keeping up Bush’s War on Terror.”

But he mostly stayed the lefty course.

“He’s dealt with a level of hate and disrespect that no president has ever had to deal with. And I’d (support his election) again, with the money.” Maher famously donated $1 million to Obama's last campaign.

Though the talk was largely political, Maher said he’s “always been a comedian first,” and if his Beltway sensibilities ever crashed and burned, “I’ll still be able to work the road like I do now.”

To tease out the comedy, Waxman couldn’t resist a rapid-fire round of topics, letting Maher riff on one word at a time:

Drugs: “I like them”

Porn: “I’ve never looked at a porn site on a computer.”

Children: “I’ve never had that chip in me that wanted children, but … I know a lot of Hollywood players who never wanted to settle down — but want children. They found a way to do both.”

Given the topic, Waxman naturally asked Maher whether he’d consider a run for office.

“Never. I’d never get elected,” Maher said, stressing that he’d be the only atheist in Congress, despite the fact that irreligious people are among the fastest-growing group in the U.S. — including pal Billy Crystal.

“Billy Crystal said to me, ‘How can I believe in God?’” Maher said. “Can you imagine that? Billy Crystal, an atheist?”

But beyond his unelectability, Maher said he wouldn’t want the job.

“First of all, you gotta get up in the morning, and people are scrutinizing you more than in show business … it’s just never gonna happen.”

Asked if he’d still be in television 10 years from now, Maher demurred — noting that even Johnny Carson was pushed out at 67 years old, and at the height of his career.

“At some point,” he said, “the audience gets sick of you.”

Watch the clips here:

  • ima-asswhole

    very lame attempt to justify his shows existence. Shame less, just shame less.

    • artmensor

      So, don't watch it. I'm sure you don't…..is that why you think you know so much about it?

  • Viewer

    And sometimes you don't win simply because the competition is superior. But, rationalizing your losses as being “too brave” must be soothing.

  • Marquand

    Poor Bill Maher…being so judgmental and hateful to so many for so long finally coming back to roost? Is the fact that you go out of your way to degrade and demean anyone who doesn't fall in step with your on-air pulpit mandates getting in the way of your egotistical need to be accepted? Here's a tip, Bill…try poking fun at your own views and opinions every once in a while. It's what successful comics do. Just ask all those other comedians from your generation who actually have fans.

    • artmensor

      You must have missed the blog above where it states that Bill has been around for many years, and has had two very successful shows.

      Sometimes you have to pay for quality…..I mean other than the 20 minutes of commercials on commercial tv.

  • k_e_stewart

    I think Bill has a point; actually many points. I've seen it a million times in the industry. People want to believe they are supporters of edgy comics and artists, but really they're not. And he is brave. He was the first, and only, media celebrity to call attention to the Bush Wars and how terribly mismanaged they were, among other things. I think he could tamp on the pedal a bit about his personal POV regarding religion. That's just offensive to call people out on deeply held beliefs. And I do think there are many in the industyry who are turned off by that particular offensiveness.

    • Jupiter

      Why is it “offensive” to call people out on “deeply held beliefs” when those beliefs can not be based in reality and then people want to make policy or just offer their opinion based on nonsense? What is this POV where your “deeply held beliefs” can't be questioned or even pointed out as ridiculous? I could deeply believe in Zeus, but it wouldn't make it any less ridiculous.

      • k_e_stewart

        “To each his own,” said the old lady, as she kissed the cow.

        Zeus may be a ridiculous belief, but it would be your belief. And as ridiculous as it probably is to believe in an Olympic Diety, trashing other people's beliefs makes for a world without sensitivity and respect. And it's not humorus. Just ask Lenny Bruce,

    • EH CBunny

      I like his views on religion and he should not tamp down the pedal. He should put the pedal to the metal instead. Who cares if Hollywood's religious elite are offended? Emmy's votes are based on popularity, not merit. He not part of that clique and doesn't seem to be the type that would kiss butts to join in.
      Maybe that's why America pays a premium to watch his show on HBO.

      • k_e_stewart

        He is part of “that clique”. And the Emmy's award excellence, unless you consider Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Homeland etc just shows that won on popularity.
        You missed the part where I thought I made it plain that I'm a fan of Bill's. But I also believe that a certain level of respect is due everyone. Trashing people who are religious is just not funny or inciteful. It's insensitive. Make your point and move on.

      • artmensor

        Plus he sells out shows all across the country, even in ‘red’ states.

  • mrgard

    How a.out this reason. he is obscene, obnoxious, and thats all he has. He is a little man who thinks he is the only man or woman that tells the truth. His so called truth doesnt make it right. No talent, big mouth

    • Colininla

      Television shows are not given to talentless people. Despite your disapproval, his have lasted for twenty years and have successfully provoked thought and serious discussion. Care to make a list of others who can say the same?

      • ann2609

        provoked thought, calling women who disagree Cu-ts is thought provoking. anyone who doesn't agree with him and thinks Obama is a dip shit gets called names, real thought provoking. He is no better than a movie critic who makes a living telling us what they liked and didn't. Please get off your ass and be creative. Mahr is just a big mouth who I once was a fan of, but he has become disgustingly rude. the only ones he sounds intelligent too are liked minded people.

        • odin

          the Scottish would call him a clown-in the military we call him a cake eater. Basically a loud mouth who couldn't bust a grap n a fruit fight. I love to hear his opinions. everytime i do he reinds me of a scared little boy who talks a grand game but one who is scared and hollow

          • artmensor

            Why did you come here from Scotland? Sounds like you should go back.

        • artmensor

          Oh no, ann You are mixing Bill Maher with Bill O'Reilly.

          Bill O'Reilly ACTUALLY YELLS at his ‘guests’ and cuts their microphone off.

          I've seen it, and I've only watched Bill O'Reilly twice, until I got sick to my stomach.

    • artmensor

      Sounds to me like you are talking about Bill O'Reilly, or Sean Hannity, or Ann Coulter or most of the talking heads on fox news(?)

      You obviously do not watch Real Time with Bill Maher.

  • ann2609

    In response to hie John Kerry comment: John Kerry is a traitor!

    The same John Kerry that received a ‘dishonorable dismissal for collaboration with the enemy’ by Richard Nixon.

    The same John Kerry that would not sign the 180, that showed that dishonorable dismissal that was upgraded in the Carter admin with help from Sen Ted Kennedy and then upgraded again just prior to Presidential run.

    The same John Kerry that is a war hero in the North Viet Nam War museum.

    The same John Kerry that received orders from North Viet Nam during the Veterans against the War and Winter Soldier saga's

    The same John Kerry that lied to the Senate Committee during the Winter soldier hearings.

    The same John Kerry that labeled US servicemen in Viet Nam as baby killers.

    check all the about, they are facts

    • artmensor

      Were did you get these ‘facts’ from the A$$ of fox news(?).

  • johnsmith9875

    Bill Maher wn't win an Oscar, he's not Jewish.

    • dannyjude63

      Of course he won't win an Oscar – he's on television. And Stephen Colbert is not Jewish and he did win. What a stupid comment.

  • dannyjude63

    Anybody else feel it's kind of obnoxious that, although Bill Maher has been honored with 32 nominations over the years, he feels he's being dissed by the Emmy's rather than feeling that, over the years, the voters simply felt another show was more deserving? Maybe he came in second every single time. I agree with a lot of his opinions and appreciate his humor, but perhaps arrogance is more of a detriment to the lack of an Emmy for his show rather than his-self described “bravery”.

    • artmensor

      Hey, have you EVER been up for an award, 32 times, that you never won?????

      I doubt it.

      Then you'd know of what you speak. You don't have a clue.

      • dannyjude63

        Your comment has nothing to do with mine. I think you're the clueless one.

  • fernando

    As an astrologer, having charted mr. Maher, I find him to be one of the most fascinating people on the planet. He is a real Alpha Male-which is rare in Hollywood.

  • Zach

    Maher's show is boring and “courageous and outspoken” only for people who don't read.

    • artmensor

      Which obviously includes you.

      • Zach

        Must feel good to finally use that well thought-out retort.

        • artmensor

          If the shoe fits WEAR IT!

          If you don't like it, turn the dial. or what are you doing on this blog, other than trying to cause trouble?

          • Zach

            I'm here to pick up fresh one-liners like the “wearing the shoe that fits” thing.

          • JoeWP

            I DO!!!

  • ym

    You will never win because you are a nut job…even the liberals don't like you…

    • artmensor

      You have no idea what you are talking about.

      But when did progressives ever really know what they were doing?

      Maybe 60 years ago.

      • JoeWP

        Follower and always will be artmensor….

    • Roldan Moore

      HaHa. Believing in a patetic GOD is even nuttier.

      • GOD

        LOL And believing this guy isn't?

  • Tony Pies

    BILL ROLL ONE… SO FREAKING ANGRY

  • tim

    When you watch the “full, uncensored” interview (which is cut short), it's pretty funny that Bill seems to know this woman clearly is lying about being a fan. He kept pointing out that she really doesn't watch his show like she claimed, and I laughed because the second she pretended to watch every Friday, I could tell she was lying.

    • http://www.thewrap.com TheWrap

      hey there tim. not only does this woman watch the show every friday, she has also been a guest on the show. the woman had not watched the show the friday before the interview because she was preparing for the conference at which he was interviewed. signed, this unlying woman (sw)

  • rship19

    Many watch “The Colbert Report,” and “The Daily Show” regularly. Have yet to come across someone who is a “Real Time With Bill Maher” regular.

  • Jackie Jormpjomp

    Massive ego. Smug, entitled, sleazy and prone to rationalize his losses as being a martyr. He no doubt has some devoted fans, many on this board for example, but aside from a funny bit here and there I personally am not one of them. I long ago gave up watching his HBO show when it became tiresome to see the routine of inviting one person who has more conservative leanings to be ripped up by the sycophants Maher surrounds himself.
    But like I said, he has his fans and I wouldn't presume to tell them who or what they are supposed to njoy.

  • Fireman Frach

    He'll never win not because he's brave but because he's an ass.

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  • Sarah_M547

    Waxman solicited an honest assessment of President Obama from Maher, who — in the discussion’s spirit of nuance — offered both praise and criticism of the second-term president. The policy is everywhere. d­r­ℴ­p­7­0­.­c­ℴ­m

  • JoeWP

    LOL he is an idiot and none of you see this… Sad, very sad…