Bill Maher Takes Posthumous Pot-Shot at Bourdain

June 30, 2018

By Karen

For his liberal, albeit cynical, voice, I generally appreciate Bill Maher. But when it came to Anthony Bourdain, I’ve thought he behaved like a weasely little dick. It’s probably height envy.

The only time I ever saw Bourdain on Real Time with Bill Maher was August 5, 2011, when he joined in mid-debate the panel, which included Neil deGrasse Tyson and Steve Bannon. Tony came onstage carrying a paperback book that was probably Medium Raw, apparently thinking he was there to discuss it. But it was never mentioned.

This clip shows a just a slice of the welcome he got from Maher and their somewhat wary body language…

Here’s Tony’s contribution to the general discussion, when he could get a word in…

Now, fast-forward to last night. It marked exactly three weeks since Tony died by suicide. It was also the last live episode of Real Time before a month-long hiatus. Bill Maher offered a series of “future headlines” to tide viewers over until he returns on August 3.

Among them was this headline about Bourdain…

Here’s video of the whole series of headlines so you can judge for yourself how the audience reacted to Tony’s…

They seemed to me to laugh and applaud as had been the pattern, but then they caught themselves. Maher quickly recovered by launching right back into another dig at Sandra Huckabee Sanders and regained their full enthusiasm.

I’m still scratching my head trying to make any sense of the Bourdain joke. Pairing the destruction of Asia with Tony’s death seemed like a random dig to get in a gratuitous last word. It was a punch below the belt by Bill Maher, IMO.

PS: OMG, OMG, how did I miss the OBVIOUS??!! I just got the “joke.” Comet destroys ASIA!!

UPDATE LATER JUNE 30 : Bourdain had the last word. Lenora contributed this quote to the comments on this post from an interview Tony did on December 29, 2016…

Bisley: A few years back you were on Real Time with Bill Maher and part of the discussion was about people living inside their own bubbles. What do you think of Bill Maher?

Bourdain: Insufferably smug. Really the worst of the smug, self-congratulatory left. I have a low opinion of him. I did not have an enjoyable experience on his show. Not a show I plan to do again. He’s a classic example of the smirking, contemptuous, privileged guy who lives in a bubble. And he is in no way looking to reach outside, or even look outside, of that bubble, in an empathetic way.

That’s our Tony.


Checking in On Bourdain

August 8, 2011

By Karen

Even though I stopped logging regular reports on Anthony Bourdain, I’ve been casually keeping tabs. I’ll confess I miss our old debates about Tony, so here’s some dish on what I’ve been seeing lately and I invite anyone to weigh in.

First, a round of applause to Tony, who seems to be pulling through his hair gel phase. His mane seems to be slowly returning to its original lushness.

I adored No Reservations in Naples. Maybe it’s because I can relate to the food, or maybe it’s Tony’s love for all things Italian, but his episodes in Italy are always sumptuous and highly rewatchable. And, of course, it’s a joy whenever Ottavia shows up and takes him down a few pegs, which she did when he and his crew crashed a wedding they happened upon. It was truly a gauche move, even for Vic Chanko.

The El Bulli episode? Meh. Yes, I know. The end of a culinary era. I should be wearing black. However, watching Bourdain & Friends consume the highlights of 52 one- or two-bite courses did nothing for me, although the sheer bizarreness and utter impracticality of what was shown was impressive and, I’m sure, delicious.

There’s no doubt Ferran Adria and David Chang are geniuses at what they do. But I think their notion of dining out is akin to a theater producer bankrolling some full-scale, avant garde musical and allowing only one row of seats for an audience. He sells a dozen tickets per performance, max, and eventually everyone’s claiming he’s got the hottest thing on Broadway and keeps the show “sold out” forever. But do I want to keep hearing about how wonderful, yet impossibly exclusive, it is? No.

On August 4, Tony visited the Colbert Report and didn’t quite seem to be getting the joke, playing straight his usual schtick on the evils of restaurant chains. After spending 28 years in restaurant kitchens, he said he now “boils with rage” at chains like Chili’s or Applebee’s, and claimed Cinnabon to be the most “grosteque” thing ever.

Was he implying he was cooking haute cuisine all that time? We know better.

Yeah, it’s a crying shame all Americans can’t hop a plane on someone else’s dime to grab a fresh bowl of pho in Hanoi or a pizza in Napoli when we want a nosh.

Colbert managed to make Bourdain sound even more elitist and out of touch by asking Tony to describe the rite of eating ortolon whole, as he described in the opening of Medium Raw.

On August 5, Tony appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, and food consequently got shoe-horned into the political discussion. As the show wrapped up, Maher thanked “Arthur Bourdain” for being there.

The camera caught Tony’s nonplussed reaction. Sorry, I couldn’t find that bit anywhere online.

This clip is from the “Overtime” segment without Maher, where the guests discuss viewer questions. I’m guessing Maher apologized, saying he meant “author Anthony Bourdain” but it got jumbled.

Ep. 223: August 5, 2011 – Overtime

Tony’s a smart guy, and he’s branching out beyond food TV. I just wish he’d tap into his his worldly experience and talk about things other than food.

Technical PS: I’ve given you the links to the videos two ways, in the text and separately, as a WordPress experiment just to see how “embedding” from those sites would work.

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