Bill Maher delights in hosting Real Time guests who court controversy, but last week, he careened down a cliff of his own making by dropping the N-word. The HBO host subsequently apologized after his slur resulted in a deluge of criticism, but he lost an upcoming guest in the process. As if by magic, Maher’s Esquire profile has arrived to distract everyone and hopefully remind folks that Maher is usually only “insufferably smug,” not a guy who sometimes drops racial slurs in an effort to be edgy. Will it work?
Esquire profiles are known for their unorthodox approach and often don’t focus heavily on an entertainer’s trade. (For example, one piece featured a reporter, who had “never heard of” Gerard Butler, interviewing the actor at the height of his fame.) This Maher piece — he’s interviewed by Stephen Rodrick — dips toes into political matters but aims to present the hidden Maher, who is one funky guy. Witness the following paragraph (that follows details about Maher wearing a flowered shirt while riding on a golf cart with a 20-something lady friend), which contains all kinds of voodoo:
Besides politics and women, health is Maher’s other obsession. Our conversation migrated to seeds as he took me to his kitchen and showed me how he makes lunch. Meanwhile, Chico, his one-eyed dog, nipped at my shoes. (Chico is Maher in canine form, alternately charming and, as his owner warned, ready to bite.) Maher, who is impressively trim for his age, placed a series of containers on the counter. “There’s sesame seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, millet, barley, rye,” he said. “They’re very good for you.” He mashed the seeds with water in a machine that looked like a coffee grinder. After the mixture sits for a few hours, he adds black-cherry concentrate and — voilà! — there’s Bill Maher’s lunch.
Sounds … unappetizing? Yet that’s not his entire diet. Later in the day, Maher enjoys a seed-shake with a raw egg and a different type of syrup because a dude has to live a little. He also raves about “literally illegal” goat yogurt, but when Rodrick spies some potato chips in the pantry and asks about them, Maher sheepishly admits, “I do get the munchies. Pot just does that to you.”
During the profile, Rodrick speaks with Milo Yiannopoulos, who says Maher “should be glad he had me on” because their meeting was great for free speech. He maintains that his firing from Breitbart had nothing to do with Maher, and the two are planning for a follow-up appearance, but Maher doesn’t talk much about Milo. He does, however, describe his love for dating younger women as the last politically-incorrect frontier:
“[But] a man my age who wants to go out with younger women. That’s the last politically incorrect thing you can do in America, and it is not forgiven. It would be okay if I came out as gay on my sixtieth birthday,” he said, before offering himself a round of mock applause. “Well, f*ck you, I’m going to do what my body wants — like everybody else in America.”
What else? Maher’s home library contains a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amazing Sex, and his house is filled with art that he scoops up on deep discounts. He calls himself “Mr. Cheap” while describing how he buys paintings from folks who have fallen on hard times. He then shifts to a discussion of Western medicine and how the polio vaccine only “put the final kibosh” on the disease (and Rodrick provides the science to dispute this), but there’s one medicine that he does use — for his hair — and the profile mentions that he pauses to “tousle his silver mane” at one point:
Western medicine is another of Maher’s bugaboos. He can filibuster for hours about what medical science doesn’t know and calls flu vaccines a “scam.” (The only pharmaceutical medication he says he uses is for his thinning hair.)
Other highlights include Maher toting an actual “binder of jokes” onto an airplane. Throughout the piece, Rodrick brings up the French election, in which the far-right Marine Le Pen was trounced by centrist Emmanuel Macron. It quickly becomes apparent to Rodrick that Maher has “not done his homework about the most important European election of this century so far” and is simply seizing upon Le Pen’s Trump-esque soundbites, whereas John Oliver dug in deep for his HBO show. Ouch.
You can read the full Maher profile here.