Bill Maher stands up for comedian 'tribe' following Will Smith Oscars slap: 'The war on jokes must end'

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“Real Time” host Bill Maher closed his show Friday night by planting his flag in the “war on jokes.”

Maher revived his running gag “Explaining Jokes to Idiots” by offering a breakdown of a joke “for the humor-impaired,” examining Chris Rock’s swipe about Jada Pinkett Smith, which sparked the infamous slap from Will Smith that resulted in him being banned from the Oscars for ten years. 

“Now, I know we’re all sick of talking about the slap, but I’m sorry, one more thing needs to be said. Comedians have been under attack for quite some time and I need to stick up for my tribe. This war on jokes must end,” Maher told his audience, which responded with roaring applause. 

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The HBO star stepped towards a screen with a teacher’s wooden stick at hand to thoroughly explain Chris Rock’s joke, providing definitions for terms like “crowd work” to “some s— is like other s—” joke.

“He said to Jada Smith,  ‘Jada, can’t wait for G.I. Jane 2,’ recalling the late 90s movie starring Jimmy Moore. That’s it. That’s the joke,” Maher said. “You remind me of some other beautiful, buzz-cutted movie star. It wasn’t an alopecia joke anymore more than the one about the chicken crossing the road is about bird flu.”

Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock

Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock
(Getty)

Maher then went over “insult humor” and pointed to another joke from the Oscars that was made at the expense of actor J.K. Simmons’s appearance and how he “made a face a lot like one Jada would make later on.”

“But that’s where it ended! It’s called being a good sport, especially when you’re a rich celebrity. Let the common people take the piss out of you for one stinking minute,” Maher scolded Hollywood. 

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After calling out Will Smith for initially laughing at Chris Rock’s joke, Maher blasted the Oscar winner for “conforming” to a different view and away from his genuine reaction, which he stressed was a sign of “how cancel culture works.”

“I’ve seen the same syndrome happen in comedy clubs. Woke hecklers who literally have to wait for the laughter to die down before they yell, ‘That’s not funny!'” Maher shouted. “This war on jokes must end. Will Smith didn’t get kicked out of the Oscars for going Ike Turner on Chris, but Kevin Hart got kicked out of hosting it for a joke.”

"Real Time" host Bill Maher. (HBO)

“Real Time” host Bill Maher. (HBO)
(HBO)

Maher blasted those who say “cancel culture isn’t a real thing,” pointing to a long list of comedians like Gilbert Godfried, Kathy Griffin, Sarah Silverman, Dave Chappelle and Roseanne Barr, all of whose careers were impacted by offensive jokes. 

“The people who can’t take a joke now aren’t old ladies in the Bible Belt. They’re Gen Z at elite colleges. Colleges, where comedy goes to die,” Maher said. “Kids used to go to college and lose their virginity. Now they go to lose their sense of humor.”

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He later cited comedy legend George Carlin’s “180” giving up a “lucrative career” in nightclubs in favor of college campuses, citing Carlin, “I gotta go to colleges. I belong with people who are open and will let me be myself and experiment.”

“Oh, George. It’s a good thing you’re dead,” Maher told the late comedian. “Because today, the seven words you can say on TV are, ‘Jada, Can’t wait for G.I. Jane 2.'”

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 27: Will Smith appears to slap Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 27: Will Smith appears to slap Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
((Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images))

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Maher continued, “For all those who are constantly demanding an apology for jokes, maybe it’s you who should apologize to us. For all the great jokes that we never got to hear, the brilliant thoughts that were never uttered. Those are the invisible scars of cancel culture. Let’s have a moment of silence for that and a spot in the In Memoriam package. For all the viable jokes that could’ve lived jokes but were aborted because a voice in someone’s head said, ‘Are you sure you want to risk saying that?’ That’s self-censorship, the worst kind of all.” 

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