I was on “Real Time with Bill Maher” last Friday, Valentine’s Day. Here are the highlights:
I like Bill Maher quite a bit. So being a guest on his show was extra pressure because I like him and respect him and didn’t want to come off like a dolt.
2. The Other Dudes.
Um. Jeremy Scahill? You are seriously smart. Like really smart. You remind me of my UCLA Marxism professor I had a huge crush on because he was super duper serious and cerebral and you didn’t know if he ever laughed but you wanted to be the girl who made him laugh. Never mind. I have issues. Anyway. Jeremy Scahill and Eric Klinenberg and Dylan Ratigan? You’re all super smart. Bill Nye the Science Guy as the first guest? Super duper smart and eloquent. Didn’t want to come off like a dolt in front of these men.
3. A Natural Woman.
I am very sensitive to situations where I feel so… female. Like on the Bill Maher show. I was especially nervous about coming off like a dolt because then people might say, “Oh, that woman said something dumb.”
Stylist Alison M. Kahn and I chose a pretty modest Karen Millen dress in midnight blue with pinstripe detail and no cleavage because I didn’t want to be “the woman on the panel with those smart dudes with her tatas hanging out.” And I was nervous to be too “vavoom” because I don’t want to be ogled when I am speaking about smart things. Not that you can’t be sexy and smart, but there is a certain normal human distraction factor when people present themselves as sexy, so I was treading carefully because I don’t like people looking at my tatas when I’m trying to speak to their eyeballs. So I have decided instead of changing these people, I can control how I present myself. And my tatas. (The understanding of this is the basis for the Jewish notions of tzniut, or modesty, which holds for both men and women, you oughta know.)
Thank you to my ex for reviewing my thoughts on some of the topics I was told might be discussed that night. I generally don’t know a lot about politics but I do know what I feel and think about things, and I wanted to make sure I did not come off like a dolt. Or a socialist. (And no, those are not the same!) I had great support backstage and in the green room and I went on stage feeling the most confident I think I have ever felt in this kind of situation. And thank you to Bill Maher for having a female sound engineer, because if a male sound engineer had asked me to hike my dress up to my waist so he could put a microphone pack on me, I likely would have punched him in the face and would not have been able to appear on the show because I would have been arrested. So thanks for that.
I did not know Bill Maher was going to talk about Gwyneth Paltrow. I was pretty exhausted and a bit loopy that night, and I tried to not be mean to Gwyneth. I hope I succeeded. It can be hard to think fast in those situations!
Defending religion is hard in 30 seconds. Defending my choices as a person who both lives in the secular and scientific world and appreciates the ancient and mystical world is not easy to do off camera, much less on camera. I tried to be honest. I tried to demonstrate that I am not perfect nor am I a representative of “The Jews.” I don’t know if all of humanity should turn to atheism. I don’t know that the true sign of cultural evolution is to do away with religion. And I don’t think the Torah is wicked, as Bill Maher insinuated. I honestly didn’t know how to respond to that! The Torah is not wicked; it’s people who can be wicked, and it’s people who can pervert Truth. That’s hard to address in 30 seconds.
7. Selling Books.
This show was the only nighttime talk show that has booked me in the phase of my acting career, save for my appearance on the Craig Ferguson show last year. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to get booked on shows, but I loved being on Bill Maher’s show as an author, a scientist, and a woman with a brain. I hope the discussions we had about veganism are intriguing to people, and that people buy my book and enjoy cooking yummy things that happen to be vegan but won’t make you hate vegan food. The New York leg of my book tour starts later this week, so I will have more to share with you about all of the other times I try to not sound like a dolt.
Mostly I succeed. But it’s the possibility for failure that keeps it all so interesting, right? Right. And the fact that my approach is simply to be all in.
And never wicked. Misunderstood, misinterpreted, mistaken. But never wicked. Never. Truth can’t be wicked. It’s simply Truth.
Check out clips from Mayim’s appearance here: