On Letterman, Polanski, atheists and whether he's ever done his show high.
Winding up his seventh season of “Real Time With Bill Maher” on HBO, the straight-talking comedian (or is he a stand-up pundit?) started the season soft, but found his footing round about the time his ardor for President Obama finally started to dim. This season his guests have included Jay-Z, Michael Moore, Gen. Anthony Zinni, Thomas Friedman and Sarah Silverman.
Sharon Waxman got to grill the politically incorrect oracle on David Letterman, Roman Polanski, why Bill Clinton won't do the show and if Maher has ever hosted while high.
No, we just don’t have that rigid a format. Some weeks it’s three guests, sometimes it’s two. We did change. We used to have the two single interviews, almost always by satellite. We like it better when it’s live.
That was a whole different type of show. In the first six seasons we had to take a giant break in the middle of the year budgetwise, we could only do so many shows. So we’d go from mid-February to mid-May, and be off till September. Every year we thought, "It’s such a drag when you take a big break like that, some of the audience goes away. You have to get them back again, do all the talk shows.’”
It is a drag to always have to be priming the pump twice a year.
I have been as hard on him as anybody – of the people who voted for him. Of rational people who are not insane.
It depends. If he passes something that says health care on the cover but underneath it’s a mess, I don’t think that’s very good. They’re going to pass something that’ll cover more people, but if they don’t control costs it will get us into more deficit problems.
I don’t understand why Hollywood defends somebody like that. It makes us look so bad. It makes it so easy for conservatives to say that Hollywood has no values. Why people I respect, like Martin Scorsese and Harvey Weinstein and Whoopi Goldberg … How can these people not see something so black-and-white? You cannot give a 13-year-old girl drugs and f— her in the ass -– it’s absolutely ridiculous.
I think most people would agree with that. I’m not friends with any of those people. And I like Harvey a lot.
OK, this is not an important topic. But I will say, as the years roll by, and the scandals roll in, never marrying and making no apologies for loving women just looks better all the time.
No. Jay-Z’s a straight shooter. He knows I’m a fan.
He didn’t have to do the show. He told me point-blank, "I’m doing this because I’m a big fan of the show."
Sure. Yes. We do very well with anyone who isn’t a current office holder. Certainly we don’t do as well with conservatives. They try to put out the word not to come here.
The Clintons. Bill Clinton, not a current office holder — he does shows that make way worse fun of him. And no one defended him more vociferously during impeachment than I did.
You know what — it’s almost better. When someone does your show, I don’t care who you are, you do feel a slight obligation to pull a punch. When they haven’t done your show, you feel no such obligation.
I never think about it. I used to say, modestly, I’m just an entertainer. But too many people have come up to me over the years and said just that — I used to think this way, and you changed my mind.
Especially that. Oh my God. All the time. "I saw ‘Religulous’ and boy, you opened my eyes." That thing about the Jesus Christ biography not being original — born of a virgin, resurrected after they die, born in manger or cave — if you look at details about the Persian god Mithra or Krishna, or Buddha it’s the same. That really reached people.
Never. Oh my God. That would be a disaster. Marijuana is not meant for when you have to focus. I smoke pot sometimes for that reason, when I’m alone writing. It’s very good to get the creative juices going.