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Random! Bill Maher thinks writers aren’t “owed a living”

Is this opinion from Bill Maher worthy of a place called "Club Random

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Woody Harrelson, David Zaslav, Bill Maher, and Orlando Bloom on May 12
Woody Harrelson, David Zaslav, Bill Maher, and Orlando Bloom on May 12
Photo: Kevork Djansezian (Getty Images)

We regret to inform you that we’re covering something Bill Maher said, and before we get into the meat of the thing, we should remind readers that he has a 2022 standup special called #Adulting. Bearing that in mind, let’s not get too riled up about Maher’s scorching takes from his podcast, Club Random, in which unpredictable things occur like Maher getting stoned on the stickiest of kind bud as a celebrity guest mutters, “Damn, that’s wild.”

Seated next to a patient and presumably trapped Jim Gaffigan, Maher tells Gaffigan, who looks like he’s in a hostage video, how he feels about the writers strike and, by proxy, the people he employs. Basically, he thinks writers are “asking for a lot of things that are, like, kooky,” such as a liveable wage. Maher also finds it “objectionable” that the “philosophy of the strike” has “really morphed a long way from 2007’s strike.” Unlike the strike 15 years ago, which we should point out was 15 years ago, this one is different.


Now, “they kind of believe that you’re owed a living as a writer, and you’re not.” Rather than explaining why he doesn’t think writers deserve payment for services rendered, he says, “This is show business. This is the make-or-miss league.” Maher then busies himself by laughing at his own jokes and getting zooted on expensive liquor while cutting cigars—or blunts (you can never tell with the Club Random president). Nevertheless, Maher assured Gaffigan that he has sympathy for his employees, whom he loves, before whining about how partisan this strike has become for some reason. Random!

“I feel for my writers. I love my writers. I’m one of my writers. But there’s a big other side to it,” Maher also said. “And a lot of people are being hurt besides them—a lot of people who don’t make as much money as them in this bipartisan world we have where you’re just in one camp or the other. There’s no in-between. You’re either for the strike like they’re fucking Che Guevara out there, you know, like, this is Cesar Chavez’s lettuce picking strike—or you’re with Trump. There’s no difference—there’s only two camps. And it’s much more complicated than that.”


That dig about being with Trump is where the random part comes in because if he were actually concerned about the other people impacted by the strike, he’d be encouraging the people holding the purse strings to return to the bargaining table and not denigrating his employees for demanding more for their work. Ultimately, it’s about timing for Maher. The writers picked the wrong time to ask for money. Now that he mentions it, it was pretty random for the writers to go on strike after contract negotiations fell through.

“They struck at just the wrong time; they have no leverage,” he said. “Has anyone who is watching TV recently noticed a difference? Has it affected the person down the pipeline? I don’t think so. I haven’t noticed a difference. At some point, I guess that will happen. What day is that when Netflix runs out of what they have in the warehouse?”

As we know, this isn’t true. Netflix doesn’t have new seasons for many of its biggest shows, e.g., the things people pay Netflix for. Netflix doesn’t have a new Stranger Things in stock, a new season of Witcher, or Wednesday. Maybe if Netflix hadn’t dumped all the episodes at once, they’d still have some extra Wednesday lying around. But we digress. We understand his meaning; Netflix does have a lot of content in the can—a lot of content they manufactured by, you guessed it, underpaying its workforce, which is what these strikes are about.

Playing the part of the bipartisan free thinker, Maher does say that the WGA does “have some points”—though he never says what those points are. But we should’ve known better than to expect much out of this. Early in the talk, Maher jokes that Wes Anderson is much more “homosexual” than Paul Thomas Anderson, giving us a sense of the type of randomness that goes on at Club Random.