Bill Maher joke about antisemitism met with silence on The View: ‘Too dark!’

Bill Maher was left to explain he was making a joke after a wisecrack fell flat during his appearance on talk show The View on Tuesday (21 May).

The comedian and podcast host, 68, was appearing on the show to promote his new book What This Comedian Said Will Shock You.

During a spirited discussion, co-host Sunny Hostin took Maher to task for his use of the word “woke”, arguing that the term has been “weaponized and bastardized” as it has been co-opted by the political right.

Maher replied that “words migrate” just as the positions of political parties change. He added: “I mean, I think we agree about the danger of the super far right, and I can’t say it enough, I think they’re the bigger threat.

“But, don’t tell me that the left hasn’t changed. I mean, I’m old enough to remember when it was the conservatives who hated the Jews, ok?”

The comment was met by silence from the audience, until Maher clarified: “That was a joke.”

Bill Maher appearing on ‘The View’, 21 May 2024 (ABC)
Bill Maher appearing on ‘The View’, 21 May 2024 (ABC)

Co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin responded: “Too dark! Too dark!” before Maher retorted: “Well, maybe it is, but it’s true.”

Elsewhere in the show, Hostin asked Maher a series of pointed questions about Israel’s war in Gaza, saying: “Are you at all concerned about the innocent civilians that have been collectively punished and murdered, largely children and women? Are you at all concerned about the fact that the International Criminal Court just today issued a subpoena for Bibi Netanyahu?”

Maher responded that he feels the ICC’s position is “ridiculous” because: “They were attacked and they are defending themselves. Now this is a war, do you think Hamas needs to be destroyed? This is the question.”

After Hostin said yes, Maher continued: “Ok, so Hamas needs to be destroyed because they are a terrorist organisation who say openly that they want to commit genocide on the Jewish people, on the state of Israel. That’s what ‘from the river to the sea’ means, ok? They say it very openly.

“They’ve attacked Israel five times. They’ve started five wars since they were given that land back. They could have chosen to have turn that place into any place they wanted to. They took a lot of money from the international community and they spent it on bombs, and guns, and building tunnels.”

After Maher acknowledged that he doesn’t have a solution for the situation, Hostin asked him again whether he was concerned about the loss of innocent lives.

“Of course, everybody is,” Maher responded. “But that’s what happens in a war. Here’s a way to stop that: Stop attacking Israel.”

Earlier this month, Maher told Jerry Seinfeld that he plans to retire from stand-up comedy.