“Real Time” host Bill Maher rejects the notion that he’s “uncancellable” in the current climate of cancel culture.
“Any comic in this era, anybody in this era can absolutely fall off the ledge at any moment,” Maher said during an interview with CNN that aired on Tuesday. “It just makes me laugh when people say to me, ‘You know, you’re uncancellable.’ Are you kidding? In two seconds, I could get canceled. Anybody could.”
Maher, an outspoken critic of cancel culture, was literally canceled by ABC for comments he made following 9/11 as the host of the late-night program “Politically Incorrect.” Just days after the terror attack, Maher insisted it was “cowardly” for the U.S. to use cruise missiles overseas while the terrorists who flew the planes into the World Trade Center were “not cowardly.”
The liberal comedian was met with intense backlash at the time and ABC pulled the plug on his show the following year. In 2003, he launched “Real Time,” which has been on HBO ever since.
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Maher told CNN’s Jake Tapper that his studio audience used to “always” boo him whenever they heard something they thought was objectionable because they were “more woke than I was.” However, he said that has stopped in recent years.
“And then, about five years ago, I don’t know what they did with the audience but they got rid of the groaners. And it made my life so much better,” Maher said. “And there are people who actually say to me now, ‘I miss the days when you used to fight with the audience.’ Well maybe you do, but I don’t.”
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Maher acknowledged that he has “lost fans over the years” because he doesn’t always say what they want to hear but stressed “that’s my ultimate bond with the audience.”
“When I lose people, it’s like OK, well, you were never really meant to be with me in the first place,” Maher laughed.
Maher said that when he first launched “Politically Incorrect,” he was discouraged by others that felt he should not share his opinions since he’ll “alienate half the crowd.”
“That’s not what Johnny Carson did, that’s not what David Letterman did, that’s not what Jay Leno did, and I said, ‘Well, let’s give it a try,'” Maher chuckled. “Maybe the people are a little more sophisticated than you’re giving them credit for and they can actually take it, that a guy who is on TV, they don’t always agree with him, but they still like him. Just like in life. You don’t always agree with your friends on everything. So, it did turn out that it was OK because here I am 30 years later, still on.”
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He went on to complain how whenever he’s searching for new writers in Hollywood, he reads “packets” of material that are sent to his office and how monotonous they’ve become over the years.
“It’s stunning how uniform their points of view are,” Maher said, suggesting they all espouse liberal conventional wisdom. While Maher leans left and is a fervent critic of Trump and the Republican Party, he frequently pokes his own side of the aisle on issues like wokeness and off-putting political correctness.
“And it hasn’t always been that way,” Tapper responded.
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“Exactly,” Maher replied. “I don’t remember but I don’t think it was ever quite this bad. It’s the exact same point of view on every single issue. And it’s very predictable. I have a relationship with people who want to hear what I think is the truth, and I’m going to present both sides. And they may not be fair and balanced. It may not be equal weight put to each side because that’s not what the truth is. The truth isn’t always 50/50. So I live with that, but it gets more difficult because we’re more tribal now.”