Bill Maher and David Mamet Revisited the History of Adult Films on “Real Time”

It was a much less contentious conversation than Mamet’s last appearance on the show

Bill Maher on the December 1, 2023 episode of "Real Time."
Things took some odd turns on the latest "Real Time."

The last time David Mamet appeared on Real Time With Bill Maher, things took an interesting turn when Maher grilled Mamet about comments he had made in his book about the 2020 election and the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory therein. It was genuinely gripping television and one of the most engaging Real Time segments in recent memory. 

Having watched that earlier episode, I wouldn’t have expected Mamet to return to the show. And yet, on Friday night, there he was, discussing his book Everywhere an Oink Oink: An Embittered, Dyspeptic, and Accurate Report of Forty Years in Hollywood. Maher began the segment by citing different areas of Mamet’s knowledge that came up in the book, including unexpected facts about historical figures ranging from Gandhi to Lenin. “How do you know this shit?” Maher asked.

The two men had a contentious discussion this time as well, though it wasn’t nearly as heated as Mamet’s last visit. Maher brought up a comment Mamet had made in his book on why dialogue doesn’t matter. Mamet cited subtitles, as well as talking about the experience of following the movie that the person sitting next to you on a plane is watching. (Which was a solid point; it’s also how I started watching BoJack Horseman.) 

Arguably the most interesting moment of the conversation came when Mamet spoke about learning to understand the audience’s perspective. “You realize you have their attention until you lose it,” he said. “And if you put an extra syllable in the joke, you lose their attention. And if you put in an extra joke, you can’t get them back.”

The most bizarre moment of the interview came when Mamet compared something to watching porn. He explained his scenario for this theoretical adult film, to which Maher commented, “When was the last time you looked at porn?” (Maher also made an interesting observation on the porn films of an earlier decade when he said, “I always thought they were a lot like musicals.”)

Mamet then gave Maher and his audience a trip into adult film history. “They had smokers, where they had these 16mm prints of a guy, and the guy was always wearing shoes, black socks and garters — and nothing else,” he recalled. “Those were the good old days.” It wasn’t the weirdest Real Time moment this season, but it was up there.

Some other notable moments from the episode:

  • During his interview with Mamet, Maher revealed that, while he likes Martin Scorsese’s filmography, he’s not much of a Raging Bull fan.
  • Maher’s interview with Mamet ended with Mamaet handing him a mezuzah, which Maher said he would “make into something useful.” He then made a gesture that suggested he was going to put weed in it. 
  • An interesting programming note: originally, Representatives Nancy Mace and Ro Khanna were scheduled to appear on this episode, but House business kept them in Washington. Instead, James Carville and Dave Rubin comprised the evening’s panel.
  • Maher shared his thoughts on watching this week’s Ron DeSantis/Gavin Newsom debate: “I thought, ‘This is the election we should be having.’ And then I thought, ‘I don’t want this one either.’”
  • Surreal moment of the night: James Carville in a pink Marine Corps hoodie (he spent two years as an active-duty Marine in the 1960s) talking heatedly about patents.
  • Maher, when Rubin tried to convince him to move to Florida: “You have flying cockroaches. It’s not going to happen.”
  • Maher made two good suggestions for political debates: cutting off the microphones of whoever shouldn’t be speaking and real-time fact-checking.
  • Maher, on politicians’ recent appearances on his show: “Taking advantage of desperate politicians is my business model!”
  • Maher, on eggnog at Christmas: “It’s the only time of the year when it’s okay to put alcohol in milk.”

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