Late Friday afternoon HBO announced that “Real Time With Bill Maher” will be taking a temporary hiatus due to concerns about, you guessed it, coronavirus, and on Friday night’s episode, even he didn’t appear to be certain how long the hiatus will last.
“That’s our show, hopefully not our season,” Maher signed off at the end of the episode. “We’ll see you hopefully a week after this.”
Before that, you won’t be surprised to read, pretty much the entire episode was all about coronavirus. The show event went without a live studio audience (crew hands stepped up to laugh and cheer at the jokes) because of it. Topics include how to deal with the pandemic, whether and how much Donald Trump is to blame for how bad things have got, and how what people eat might affect their ability to fight it off. And during “New Rules,” it was also the perfect excuse for Maher to call for the death of the “disgusting” cruise ship industry.
Famously, at least three cruise ships have been the site of serious outbreaks of coronavirus, but that wasn’t the only reason Bill Maher wants them gone. He also noted that they contained things “good liberals are supposed to hate, like environmental destruction, exploited labor, greed, gluttony and disease.”
Maher argued that one of the few good things about pandemics is that they “force society to rethink traditions, like shaking hands, sharing a dessert, making out with the dog, and yes even passing a joint.” So why not cruise ships, which he joked “are what happens when someone asks ‘What if my hotel could sink?’”
Maher said that those boats were terrible even before they became coronavirus epicenters. “Calling a cruise ship a floating petri dish was funny the first 300 times some gross disease swept through the cabins. But it’s not that funny anymore,” Maher said, “because petri dishes are small, and controllable, and stay locked in a lab where they can’t hurt anybody.”
“Cruise ships, on the other hand, are large and quite difficult to control,” Maher continued. “Which is why they keep crashing into things like docks, and rocks, and each other.”
Maher added that for germs, the boats are like a combination of Mardi Gras, spring break, and Las Vegas, but cautioned that “what happens on a cruise ship does not stay on a cruise ship.”
Maher also criticized the size of the boats, noting how heavily they pollute, and the horrible working conditions for cruise ship employees. “The reason you can afford a week of all-inclusive fun is because in the middle of the ocean there are very few laws, or people to enforce them.”
Maher noted that, as has been well documented, a cruise ship kitchen can work more than 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for 6 straight months. “That’s not a grand hotel on the sea, it’s a slave ship with a food court,” he joked, comparing living conditions for those employees to “the room where Jeffrey Epstein killed himself.”
Maher also noted the problem of unsolved crimes on ships, particularly the huge problem of missing passengers whose disappearances are never investigated.
He also called out the activities available, mostly the kind of things people do on land like malls, coffee shops and so on. “Congratulations, you set out for the West Indies, and you made it to West Covina,” he said, comparing that to “having sex while you fantasize about jerking off.”
Maher urged viewers to just skip cruise ships and hit beaches instead. “It’s cheaper, safer, and f—, you don’t have to sit through the magician.”
Watch the clip below.