Bill Maher stopped by ‘The Tonight Show’ last night to plug this Friday’s season premiere of HBO’s ‘Real Time,’ and he managed to sneak in a jab at Jay Leno about the whole flap with NBC and Conan O’Brien.
After Leno made a particularly bad joke about how Maher must have used the money he got from mowing lawns as a teenager to go “to lawn school,” Maher just shook his head in disbelief, rolled his eyes and sarcastically quipped “Oh, NBC was right to keep you, with that kind of ad-libbing!”
Leno recovered a bit later, though, turning the tables on Maher after he made a not-so-great BP oil spill joke about a waiter asking him if he wanted a fish sandwich ‘leaded or unleaded.’ The host turned it right back on him, zinging “HBO is so glad they kept you, buddy, I’ll tell you that, with that kind of wit!” Maher laughed along with it, but if you watch ‘Real Time’ regularly, you’ll know that Maher is not your normal self-deprecating comic – he’s much more inclined to blame the audience for not laughing at a joke than he is to accept that the joke isn’t funny. So as Leno kept jabbing him and poking at him like an ornery brother would to drive home that zinger, he said “Shut up, Jay! Shut up, Jay!” and even stood up briefly with fists raised for a joke fight.
The entire interview is interesting to watch, because Maher’s controversial brand of political comedy and biting social commentary is not the best fit with Leno’s more conservative older audience. He referred to the Tea Party as “nativist bedwetters who somehow control our national dialogue,” and he called them “the Pee Party, because they’re always peeing in their pants about something.” He also addressed the whole Muslim community center debate by saying “I’m against a mosque at Ground Zero.” When the crowd cheered the sentiment, he quieted them down by adding “I’m also against a mosque anywhere, I’m against a church anywhere, or a Hindu temple or a synagogue. These are houses of worship, which means they are places where people go to retell nonsense stories from a time before man understood what a germ or an atom was, or where the sun went at night. They try to telepathically communicate with their imaginary friend. These are places that fleece people and scare people and they perpetuate mass-delusion. We shouldn’t build any of them.”
This is the man who made Religulous, after all. As much as you have to respect him for saying the things that almost no one else is willing to say in a public forum, which is absolutely crucial, he does tend to get a bit pedantic when making his points, and especially so to Leno’s audience. When talking about conservatives terrified that President Obama is determined to take away their guns, he scolded anyone in the crowd who might agree with that. “If you think he’s coming after your guns, you need to get out of your chat room and have your house tested for lead. He’s not coming after your guns or your Bible or your fishing pole or your chewing tobacco, and there’s not a monster under your bed. That’s the Ab-Lounger you ordered and never used.”
As usual, Maher’s got a lot to say. This weekend’s ‘Real Time’ should definitely be one to watch.