Bill Maher started his HBO show Friday night by thanking the audience “for letting a sinner in your midst,” a reference to his use of the n-word on last week’s show.
“Michael Eric Dyson will be here soon to take me to the woodshed,” he added, a reference to one of his guests on the show later that night. Some audience members yelled, “We love you Bill” as he took the stage.
Maher then went into his regular monologue.
This was Maher’s first show since using the racial slur during an interview last week with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). HBO issued a statement condemning the remark, and Maher issued an apology the next day.
“Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I’m up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn’t have said on my live show,” he said in the statement. “Last night was a particularly long night as I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment. The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry.”
But it did not stop the fallout. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) canceled his appearance on the show. Instead, “Real Time” booked academic and author Dyson, an African-American. He came to the host’s defense, tweeting that Maher “has bravely, and relentlessly, pilloried racism, white privilege, and white indifference to the black plight.” “In short, he has used his platform to highlight black faces, and amplify black voices, that might otherwise have never been given such a prominent perch to tell their truths.”
Other guests on Friday’s show included rapper and actor Ice Cube, with the roundtable consisting of David Gregory, former Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.), and activist Symone Sanders.
In the interview with Sasse, the senator invited Maher to come to Nebraska and “work in the fields.” Maher replied, “Work in the fields? I’m a house n—–.” HBO said the remark would be edited out of future airings of the episode.