Bill Maher reflects on surreal times in empty Real Time studio

Bill Maher (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Bill Maher (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) /

Real Time with Bill Maher aired without a studio audience, adding to what Maher called the ‘surreal’ times we’re in today.

Bill Maher dubbed his show “Surreal Time” on Friday as he came out to an empty studio audience. HBO’s late night show was the latest to feel the effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Other late night shows such as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers have canceled tapings until the end of the monthThe Daily Show with Trevor Noah planned to go without a studio audience but now has shut down production.

This follows parades, sporting events, and just about every other public gathering in the country being put on hold. It is the right decision given the advice from medical experts but there is no denying the sense of uneasiness brought on by such a large-scale disruption. To use Bill Maher’s words, it’s surreal.

Being a comedian first and foremost, Maher still got out in front of the cameras for Friday night’s Real Time. In his monologue, Maher did an impressive job of realizing the severity of the situation while still weaving in his biting commentary.

Watching his monologue, you can get the sense that Maher didn’t really know what to expect when delivering jokes to just his staff. Yes, he gets laughs but it’s not nearly the same reaction or experience he would typically have at Real Time . It is similar to the vibe Stephen Colbert had when he gave his monologue to an empty Late Show studio.

But audience or not, there wasn’t any stopping Maher from sharing his opinions. The comedian is more than happy to keep his distance from everyone. What he can’t quite understand is the need for an alternative to the handshake or to hoard toilet paper.

Maher does his best to offer some advice and inject some sanity into the situation. ‘Don’t do anything stupid to make it worse’ is basically the best advice anyone can give right now. Filling a television studio with a crowd would certainly qualify as something that could make things worse. So it’s good to see Real Time following its own advice.

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Whether it is coming from Bill Maher or the CDC, the advice seems to be the same: avoid crowds and wash your hands. The third part of Maher’s advice on electing presidents isn’t an official government recommendation. But it is proof that no matter the situation, Bill Maher will be Bill Maher. For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.