August 31, 2023 - 9:19 am
Updated August 31, 2023 - 2:36 pm
At age 67, he is learning to cope with days that are a blank slate. This is no laughing matter for Bill Maher.
On a summer day, he’s not dipping a toe into his pool. He’s packing, talking and lamenting the pause.
Being 100 days into a writers’ strike will do that to the host of HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” which won’t get real again until Hollywood goes back to work.
“I’m so bored. I’m like a caged animal,” Maher says, calling from his Beverly Hills home. “The problem is that I’m not so good at doing nothing. You think you want this time off and then you look around and think, ‘Now what?’ We’re told that life is about forward motion.”
Rest and relaxation? Not for him.
“I’m not a vacation guy,” Maher says. “I don’t really travel much anymore, except when I go on the road to do stand-up. Sitting on a beach is not fun for me anymore. Telling jokes to strangers is how I get my jollies, and I’m good at it. I’ve been doing it for over 40 years.”
And he will be doing it again in Vegas on Sept. 15 and 16 (and Nov. 3 and 4) at the MGM Grand. “It’s all been satirized for your protection,” Maher promises.
When he’s not on the road, Maher can be found glued to a news station or two and getting ready for another season of “Real Time.” He also hosts the popular podcast “Club Random With Bill Maher.”
His good life tips:
60 is a wake-up call
“I’m all about focusing on health these days,” Maher says. “You really have to make health and longevity your priority when you’re over 60. Think of it this way: You’re playing with five fouls. You don’t want the next one. … I also remind myself that when I was young I could drink all night and bounce back up. I could go without sleep if I needed to do it. There was a shorthand to life. Not anymore at 60. You need to focus on the basics.”
Mind the three S’s
“I live by the three S’s: Sleep. Stress. Sugar. You need to get enough sleep, which means the full eight hours. You can’t get most of your sleep. You need all of it. Six hours of sleep is not good enough. Deep and healing sleep comes in the last two hours,” he says. “Otherwise, avoid as much stress as possible because it makes you sick and affects everything. Watch your sugar intake and keep it low. Nutritionists disagree on so many things, but consider that they all agree that sugar is the main thing that wrecks your health.”
“Forty years goes by in the blink of an eye,” Maher says. “The great part is that you get better. At everything. It’s worth all the pain you put in at the beginning to get to this part of your life. And that should be celebrated.”
Be optimistic on the future
There is enough bad news these days. Maher makes fun of it during his live shows, but he looks for the silver lining. Is he hopeful for the future? “What is giving me some optimism now is my crowds at the shows,” he explains. “I get a very politically mixed crowed. This, to me, is the way back for America. We have to learn to sit with each other when we don’t agree. And we can all laugh together. “
Pick your battles
“When (Barack) Obama was president, it was scorched earth for comedians. There wasn’t a lot of comedy. Now there is a lot of comedy on both sides. The conservatives laugh at my (Donald) Trump jokes and the liberals laugh when I make fun of the woke nonsense. We sit together and we don’t fight.”
It’s all about unity
“We can’t have a national divorce,” he jokes. “We are in this together. You have to learn to share this country with a- – – – – – you don’t like.”
Remember your past
“Vegas in 2023 is a totally different experience from when I first played Vegas,” Maher says. “I was first there 40 years ago opening for Diana Ross. It was a weird time in Vegas. It was the waning days of the Rat Pack.”
What does he remember most about that time? “I did my thing for 20 minutes while people were being seated for Diana Ross. For me, it was about surviving in front of a crowd. And you had to follow the Vegas rules. As an opening act, they told you 20 minutes. When they said 20, they didn’t mean 21. I’d be sweating bullets over the time because the guy who said 20 was kind of scary. I’d be in the middle of a sentence onstage and then say, ‘OK, goodnight everybody!’ ”
Meet your heroes
But how was Diana? “You should meet the legends, if possible, in any field. She was lovely. And she held me over for a second week.”
Know your limitations
Maher plays Vegas on a regular basis, which makes one wonder: What does he do after his shows? “I’ve never really been a gambler,” he shares. “I remember back in the day hearing about the big stars who were making incredible salaries and losing it all the next night at the tables. I wanted to avoid that club.”
Bring the party with you
“These days, I usually bring friends in with me for my weekends in Vegas. I love it. It’s time to spend together, plus I do my show,” Maher says. “One of my best recent Vegas weekends included dinner at Delilah after the show, and then we went and listened to some incredible music. Unfortunately, I can’t see other shows because I’m performing at the same time. I do miss the lounge acts. Nothing better than seeing Don Rickles at midnight.”
“Nothing breaks you out of your stress mode like laughing your a- – off.”