Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Bill Maher takes his material to places that other talk-show hosts fear to tread. Case in point: a week after the cellblock suicide of Jeffrey Epstein the disgraced money manager and sex-trafficking defendant’s final moments of life were already punchline fodder for the audacious host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.
Maher’s joke started as a riff on President Donald J. Trump’s sloppy brinksmanship in the trade showdown with China but then it took a sharp turn into the lurid with a punchline about Epstein’s hanging death at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
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“Trump, the financial genius, is driving the economy over a cliff,” Maher mused. “For years, every one of the world’s economies has been doing f—ing great. Growing! Nobody, they said, could screw it up. Hah. Enter Trump saying, ‘Hold my beer.’ His new slogan is ‘Make America Atlantic City again.’ Well, did you see what happened in the stock market this week? I spent more time gasping for breath than Jeffrey Epstein…yes, Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his jail cell. And they say America can’t do anything anymore.”
(Two days earlier, Maher had sent mental health professionals on Twitter into a tizzy with this indelicate tweet framing of Epstein’s death: “Not that I’m really convinced Epstein was a suicide, but isn’t it time to take the shame out of killing yourself, especially if you were loathsome to begin with? If Epstein makes more scumbags look into it, it’ll be the best thing that happened this month.”)
Maher noted that Epstein’s death was greeted by a number of conspiracy theories including one that places the blame at the feet of Bill and Hillary Clinton: “Of all the right-wing conspiracy theories going around this is the stupidest. First of all, it makes them look cool. No one ever accused Mitt Romney of murdering his way to the top.”
Maher also acknowledged some unflattering comments that were aimed in his direction in recent days by Trump, who called the Real Time host “a wacko” in tweets that went out to the chief executive’s 63 million followers.
“Trump has been tweeting about me and talking about me at his rallies so my anxiety level is very high,” Maher said. “I’m hoping he’ll get distracted by his new plan — I’m not making this up — he wants to buy Greenland and rename it ‘New Ivanka.’ Really. He wants to buy Greenland.”
On the convoluted narrative involving Israel, Trump, and the travel plans of two Muslim U.S. lawmakers: “It’s so confusing that the racists at his rally don’t know what to chant. They’re like, ‘Send her back!’ Don’t send her back? Wait, I’m sorry. ‘Lock her up there?'”
On Trump’s life-coaching credibility: “He had two Nuremberg rallies this week, the highlight for me was when he told a protester, ‘You have a weight problem.’ That’s like mocking virgins at Comic-Con, isn’t it? Really, he pointed to a guy and he said, ‘That guy’s got a series weight problem. Go home and start exercising. Also, ‘Pay your taxes, read a book, and stay married.”