Bill Maher is eyeing the Tuesday midterm elections, and he does not like what he sees.
”Democracy is on the ballot and unfortunately, it’s going to lose,” Maher said on last week’s episode of his politics-themed talk show “Real Time.” “Everything in America is about to change in a fundamental way.”
At least Maher will no doubt have plenty of material to mine for his appearance Saturday at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater, where he’ll perform as part of the annual New York Comedy Festival that also features Wanda Sykes, John Mullaney, JB Smoove and more than 200 other comedians at nearly 50 venues across the city through Nov. 13.
The Manhattan-born, New Jersey-raised funnyman made his name in comedy clubs not far from the Garden, and he fondly recalled an era where up-and-coming comics like Eddie Murphy and Jerry Seinfeld played Comic Strip Live while he and Chris Rock might be on a stage a few blocks away.
“It means everything to me,” Maher said about performing in the city. “I wouldn’t be in the business. I cut my teeth at not just Carolines [on Broadway], but Catch a Rising Star,” he added, as well as what he calls “the granddaddy of them all” — The Improv on W. 44th St., which closed in 1992.
“I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am if I didn’t spend every waking hour in 1979, ‘80, ‘81 and ‘82 in those clubs,” he said. “We would do six sets a night in those clubs. We wanted to get good.”
Maher told the Daily News that while he’s not sure what kind of country he’ll be living in after Tuesday, for the most part he enjoys playing red states, where he feels audiences tend to be less uptight than they are in historically liberal cities like San Francisco.
“I even like an audience that has conservatives in it as well,” he said. “I’m always preaching that we have to talk to each other. You can’t write off half the country as ‘deplorable,” added Maher, referring to the derisive nickname for far-right Trump supporters.
That isn’t to say the left-leaning 66-year-old comic wants to see Republicans prevail on Tuesday.
“What’s going to happen when we wake up after these midterm elections is that were going to find a completely different political scoreboard, where the majority of people who are Republicans in our Congress don’t believe [President] Biden was elected legitimately,” he said. “And a lot of the people whose job it is to count the votes in the next election are [Donald] Trump loyalists who will go along with his coup next time.”
Maher said Trump “learned” from his failed attempt to remain in office after losing the 2020 presidential election and has been working for the past two years to put people in place who will help him return to power in 2024.
“Either way it’s going to be a s—t show, whether he wins or loses — and he will definitely run,” Maher said.
According to Maher, whatever happens on Nov. 8, no one will be off-limits when he takes the stage at MSG. That includes scandal-plagued Georgia Senate GOP candidate Herschel Walker and Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman, who is still feeling the effects of a stroke he suffered in May.
Despite famously opposing political correctness, Maher said there is one entertainer he won’t host when he returns to Los Angeles to host “Real Time,” and that’s Ye — formerly known as Kanye West — who has spent recent weeks spewing anti-Semitic messaging.
“Anti-Semitism is wildly on the march — not that it’s ever been out of vogue in this world,” Maher said. “In this atmosphere, we just don’t want to add any fuel to this fire ... I am not going to aid and abet any of that.”
When asked if he could see Ye as Trump’s 2024 running mate, Maher laughed off the idea.
“There’s too much ego for one ticket on there,” he said.