HBO host Bill Maher shot back at the “PC police” in a segment on Friday’s “Real Time” he entitled “Explaining Jokes to Idiots.”
Maher was responding a controversy over a joke he made on the previous show’s “Internet Overtime” segment where he said departed One Direction member Zayn Malik looked like Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Maher was called an Islamophobe and a racist for the joke, a controversy he stated was the result of “the PC police, as usual, read[ing] way more into the joke than was actually there.”
Maher then began the segment, where he played a clip of the joke. The joke was “new rule: Zayn Malik, can just go ahead and quit One Direction for all I care. I mean, whatever. But I think after everything we’ve been through, I at least deserve the common respect of being told face to face. Just tell me two things Zayn, which one in the band were you? And where were you during the Boston Marathon?”
Throughout the segment, Maher ridiculed those who took offense at the joke, pointing out that his “new rules” aren’t actually enforceable and is simply a “framing device” for the joke. He went on to explain basic comedic devices such as establishing and using a premise, misdirection, and sarcasm, and that it was obvious from the joke that he has no idea who Zayn Malik is, nor does he care. In fact Maher revealed he had never heard of Zayn before that day, and even mispronounced his name because it was misspelled at first until someone on staff caught it (to which he remarked “it’s called fact-checking Rolling Stone, look into it.”)
Maher then pointed out that audience laughed at the joke because “they’re not idiots” and understood that the joke was merely that Malik and Tsarnaev look alike.
He continued, “it turns out that Zayn Malik is a Muslim, but neither I, nor anyone on our staff knew that. How could we? The whole joke is I don’t know who the f*ck he is.”
Maher concluded by making a joke about Catholic priests being pedophiles and stating “but for all the respectable media outlets who covered this story when you could have spent time and space on real news that needs reporting, you are not only traitors to journalism, you are, in the truest sense of the word, 12 year-old girls.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett