TV

Watch Jim Carrey and Kerry Washington Talk Politics on “Real Time With Bill Maher”

Bari Weiss and Thomas Chatterton Williams were the episode's other guests

Bill Maher
Bill Maher's first show in over a month found him returning to familiar subjects.
HBO
By Tobias Carroll / August 1, 2020 9:30 am

For the first episode of Real Time With Bill Maher in just over a month, host Bill Maher was joined by a interesting assortment of guests: two people, best-known for their work as actors, there to promote their other creative projects; and a panel consisting of two controversial writers whose work has been up for discussion a lot in the last month. And, as befitting the at-home setting of the show, Maher also made ample use of canned applause, laugh tracks and archival clips of people clapping during his opening monologue.

Maher’s first guest was Kerry Washington, there to discuss her new film The Fight, a documentary about the ACLU. Maher and Washington’s conversation covered a number of subjects, from the ACLU’s contentious relationship with presidents of the past to Rep. John Lewis’s recent funeral. The arc of their conversation followed the path one might expect: Washington spoke about the continued relevance of the ACLU’s work, while Maher pointed out that the ACLU has historically defended people on all sides of the political spectrum.

 

Maher’s interviews with Carrey and Washington were both one-on-one; the middle of the episode focused on a panel featuring Bari Weiss and Thomas Chatterton Williams. “You two are troublemakers,” Maher said — and segued into a discussion of the recent Harper’s letter about “cancel culture” and Weiss’s recent resignation from The New York Times. Given Maher penchant for provocation, this choice of guests wasn’t surprising. It also made for a panel where there was little, if any, disagreement among the panelists — which didn’t always make for particularly gripping viewing.Th

“It’s actually an act of generosity, when you have someone like Malcolm Gladwell or someone like J.K. Rowling sign a letter like this and make it so that these people feel less alone and let them know that there is some support for the views that they have,” Williams said, regarding the Harper’s letter’s signatories — but making little mention at that point of some of Rowling’s more unsettling beliefs. (Williams later cited Rowling as someone who had been “strong enough to survive” their own encounter with a hostile online response.)

Closing out the episode was Jim Carrey, there to discuss his new book Memoirs and Misinformation. Maher owns one of Carrey’s politically-charged paintings — which he held up during the interview — and Carrey’s forays into art were one of several points their conversation touched on. Most memorable were Carrey’s offhand references to other films — including Maher and Carrey speculating about what a version of Home Alone might look like with Carrey in the lead.

Carrey also compared the current administration to the film Die Hard: “It’s Nakatomi Plaza, only Bruce Willis is on the wrong side.” For Maher’s part, he dubbed Memoirs and Misinformation “a book that could only be written by a Canadian.”

Maher closed out the episode by exhorting his audience to eat better, noting that COVID-19 affects people adversely due to their weight. (Though there’s some debate over this.) For such a wide-ranging episode, criticism of the body positivity movement seemed like an unexpected place to end things for the week. At least we got a glimpse of what Jim Carrey’s take on Kevin McAllister would have been like.

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