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Bill Maher reveals to Jerry Seinfeld that he’s retiring from stand-up comedy

‘Real Time with Bill Maher’ host says he plans to give up stand-up after taping one last special

Kevin E G Perry
Tuesday 07 May 2024 00:07 BST
Bill Maher compares Quiet on Set to Neverland

Bill Maher has revealed that he plans to retire from stand-up comedy after taping his thirteenth HBO special later this year.

The comedian, 68, will continue to host political talk show Real Time with Bill Maher and his podcast Club Random.

Speaking to Jerry Seinfeld on today’s (6 May) episode of Club Random, Maher said that his guest was known as the “purest of pure stand-ups” before adding: “This leads me to something I feel nervous about telling you, I feel like you’re the confessor to this, but after this year, I’m gonna stop doing it.”

After a surprised-sounding Seinfeld asked: “Really?”, Maher added: “I could go back! I don’t wanna make a big announcement or something. I’m doing a special at the end of the year. It’ll be my 13th for HBO. That’s a lot.”

Maher’s most recent HBO special, #Adulting, was released in 2022. He is currently performing shows around the United States as part of his The WTF? Tour.

Explaining the reasoning behind his planned retirement, Maher told Seinfeld: “First of all, I put a lot of time and effort into it because, as you know, stand-up is like playing the cello. You can’t just walk up there, you have to stay in practice, and I do. I’ve always loved it, and I’m always working on it. But I have a show.”

Bill Maher performing stand-up in New York 2016
Bill Maher performing stand-up in New York 2016 (Getty Images)

Maher has hosted Real Time With Bill Maher for HBO since 2003. Before that, he hosted the similar show Politically Incorrect for nine years.

Seinfeld joked that he didn’t know how Maher found the time to balance his long-running show with stand-up, saying: “I don’t know how you kept it up during the show, or frankly, why.”

By contrast, Maher predicted that Seinfeld would continue doing stand-up “until you drop”, to which the 70-year-old responded: “I will.”

“Maybe I will too,” reflected Maher. “I don’t know. It’s a tough decision, but I also feel like it’s easy as we get older to not do new things. And that’s what keeps you young.”

Maher started his career as a stand-up comedian, hosting New York comedy club Catch a Rising Star in 1979 at the age of 23. In 2005 he was ranked at number 38 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time.

Last month, Jackass star Steve-O said he’d turned down an appearance on Maher’s podcast after the host refused not to smoke in front of him.

The 49-year-old stunt performer has been sober for almost 16 years. Club Random typically features the host and comedian smoking cannabis during his hour-long one-on-one interviews.

Speaking on his own podcast, Wild Ride, Steve-O said: “I’m a clean and sober guy. It’s very important that I maintain my sobriety, it’s approaching 16 years. I am about to be sweet 16.

“Really, there’s nothing I value more than my sobriety. There’s nothing more that I protect than my recovery. I found it kind of upsetting when the Bill Maher podcast reached out and he smokes pot the whole time while he interviews people.

“I said I’d happily go on there, but while I’m on, out of respect for my sobriety, could he refrain from smoking pot. He said no and that’s a dealbreaker.”

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