TV | August 15, 2020 7:00 am

On the Latest “Real Time,” Bill Maher Explores the Future of Football

Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Keisha Lance Bottoms and Colin Cowherd were the episode's guests

Bill Maher
Bill Maher on the August 14 episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher."

When Bill Maher took to the stage before his (simulated) audience for the latest episode of Real Time With Bill Maher, he had plenty to discuss. In the week since the show’s previous episode, Donald Trump had tweeted his disapproval for the faux eulogy for Trump that Maher delivered to close out the episode. Maher’s opening monologue addressed Trump’s comments, along with his recent executive orders for coronavirus relief, which Maher doubted would have much real-world impact. “Imaginary help is on the way, folks,” Maher quipped.

Maher did seem visibly pleased about the announcement of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s running mate, though it wasn’t without some grounds for humor as well. He dubbed her “ready to wake Joe Biden from a nap on day one” to rapturous laughter from what appeared to be a clip from The Money Pit. One of Biden and Harris’s fellow hopefuls for the Democratic nomination this year, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, was among the quartet of guests on the show. He wasn’t the only mayor to appear: Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, was the episode’s first guest.

“It’s a tough time to be a mayor,” Bottoms said. Among the topics discussed: how the Trump and Obama administrations differed in their responsiveness to the concerns of city leaders across the country. (Of note for music fans: prominently displayed behind Bottoms was an LP by her father, the late R&B singer Major Lance.)  Maher also brought up the city’s new chief of police — and asked whether the recent leadership changes in Atlanta and Seattle were actually making policing more progressive. Bottoms defended her city’s efforts and her own decisions regarding personnel.

Buttigieg and another Democratic presidential hopeful, Andrew Yang, were Maher’s panelists for the episode. It began with Maher vocalizing his discontent over the current model of electoral debates, and expressing his frustration with the looming presidential debates. It fell somewhat into the category of “this is more of a comment than a question,” and there was a brief pause after he finished before Yang gamely offered a response. All three generally agreed that the current format wasn’t the best way to seriously discuss issues and emphasized “zingers” over something more tangible.

Both Yang and Buttigieg also addressed economic issues stemming from the pandemic. Maher brought up a July tweet from Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley that called for canceling rent, mortgages and student debt as a response to the crisis. Maher wondered out loud whether this was too extreme a position to take; neither Yang nor Buttigieg responded in the affirmative, however. Both spoke about the importance of some sort of relief, and both raised valid concerns about widening income inequality — with Amazon’s recent increase in value being cited in particular.

The episode’s final guest was neither a mayor nor a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful. FOX Sports host Colin Cowherd discussed the current state of sports and sporting events. Maher has, in the past, expressed skepticism that air travel is permissible but attending sporting events in open-air venues is not; he and Cowherd segued from there into the question of whether Dallas Cowboys games will safely bring in fans.

Maher and Cowherd contrasted how the NBA and MLB have handled the pandemic, and discussed whether certain players in the NFL were more at risk, given their size. Maher also raised an interesting point: did Cowherd think that the lack of a college football season might hurt Donald Trump in the election? Cowherd ventured that it would not, and stated that he believed the election would come down to a referendum on the Trump administration so far. And Maher went for the football deep cuts, invoking the very short-lived NFL team known as the Steagles.

For his closing monologue, Maher addressed the controversy over TikTok (his advice: wait 10 months, until its users have moved on to the next hot app) and wedding proposals gone wrong. From there, Maher segued into controversies over statues and spaces with unsettling histories, which eventually led him to a long riff on the logistics of “canceling” Jesus — a strange note on which to end a wide-ranging episode.

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