Bill Maher didn’t really have time to do another show. After all, he’s been host and executive producer of HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher for nearly 20 years. And like he tells Yahoo! Entertainment, he works very hard on it.
“It takes a lot out of me every week,” Maher says.
Yet here he is, six months into his brand new podcast called Club Random, which is recorded in “a little nightclub” that Maher built on his property that he also calls Club Random, and the concept is pretty simple.
“I do love to get high at Club Random,” Maher reveals. “And I love to talk to my friends with a drink and a joint. And if you want to do that, and have some really interesting people come over here, I'd be happy to do that.”
But when it comes to prepping for the show or the interviews, which have included names like William Shatner, Quentin Tarantino, Leslie Jones, Bella Thorne, Mike Tyson and Woody Harrelson, Maher is not having any of it.
“I'm just gonna show up. I barely know who the guest is. I'm not gonna prepare for it like I do for my show. It's not that kind of show,” Maher explains. “Why would I do another kind of show unless it was very different? And it is very different, except it's still me. It's just me that you would see out of a suit, smoking pot. The real me, in other words.”
One of those interviews he showed up for recently was with NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who came under fire in 2021 after he claimed to have been “immunized” ahead of the football season when he instead underwent alternate treatments. Maher says he reached out to Rodgers after hearing a lot of what he had to say about vaccines.
“We kind of bonded over the fact that both of us believe in medical autonomy in a way that a lot of the country has dragged its feet on and, I think, a lot of the country is ignorant about it. I think people are just scared about their health so they think there's this priesthood in white lab coats who have all the answers.”
Maher went on to say that neither of them are an “anti-vaxxer” but that it should be everyone's personal decision.
“So we kind of bonded over that,” Maher says. “We talked about a million things, but certainly I admire his guts for standing by what he truly believes. Which is pretty much what I believe.”
Maher, whose TV career dates as far back as 1993 with Politically Incorrect, had been hesitant to get into podcasting for quite a while. Not only because he already had a show, but because he really didn’t understand the appeal of the medium.
“It's exactly like radio and radio was the most unhip thing in the world,” Maher says. “First of all, it blows my mind that the attention span of America is either six seconds or three hours, and apparently nothing in between.”
Maher says that he comes from a world where you’re supposed to leave people wanting more, which is not the case with podcasts. Although he has come to appreciate the lack of a time limit, and has gone as long as two hours with some of his guests.
“It's amazing to me. I don't know where these people are listening or where they get this time. But I'm happy because you know, I come from a radio line, my father was in radio,” Maher says. “I was sad to see radio go away and now it's kinda come back, but through the podcast.”
The host, who has made a name for himself in the political space through the years, said that the conversations on his podcast will sometimes go in that direction but that he doesn’t push for it.
But, with another election cycle on the horizon, Maher is as energized as ever about covering politics on Real Time. Even with the levels of divisiveness and vitriol that have risen in the world.
“The messier it is, the better for me. The worse it is for the country, the better for me,” Maher says. “We're doing better than ever because I feel like most of the media is locked into their bubbles. Even comedy media, you know, they just pander to the people who are in the audience who are just gonna clap like seals at the things they already think they know and want to hear back.”
Maher said that while he does agree with points of view from other shows, he has been much more willing to make fun of the left than he used to because, as he says, “they’re a lot crazier than they used to be.”
“Nobody else seems to be doing that,” Maher says about making fun of the left. “So I love having that all to myself. You guys want to pander? Good. I'll just keep doing what I do. I think I'm generally left of center, but I think there's a lot. I go where the comedy is.”
He acknowledges that it is a very dangerous time in America and that he “frets” for what the country will go through at the next election.
“I don't know what's gonna happen in this country. So it's a perilous time. But you know, I'm loving covering it. It's not boring.”
Watch the trailer:
New episodes of Club Random drop weekly wherever you get your podcasts, and also on YouTube.