“Real Time” host Bill Maher questioned whether he would ever get a chance to hang out with Howard Stern in the post-pandemic era during a frank discussion about the legendary shock jock’s germaphobia.

Maher discussed his mercurial relationship with Stern – and their differing approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic – during a conversation with comedian Kevin Nealon on an episode of his “Club Random” podcast this month.

The HBO star said he’s unsure whether Stern will “ever leave the house” due to his well-documented fear of being exposed to the virus.

“I have a long, storied history, ups and downs with that man, and I find it so sad these days that I can’t see him because of the pandemic. We don’t agree on that,” Maher said. “Not that I think it has made us not like each other.”

A years-long rivalry between the two broadcasters has cooled in recent years – to the point that Stern appeared live on set for an episode of “Real Time” in late 2019.

Maher lamented that pandemic interrupted their newfound friendship.

“We didn’t have a good relationship for a very long time. Very bitter. And then, boy, it all changed and it just shows there’s some great things about age and getting older and wiser and mellower and smarter and we became such good friends again,” Maher said.

“I don’t think I’ll ever see him again because I don’t think he’ll ever leave the house because he’s very, very, look, I don’t want to judge it, but he’s scared of germs,” he continued.

Bill Maher
Howard Stern appeared on Bill Maher’s show “Real Time” in late 2019.
ABC via Getty Images

“People have different views about that and they’re allowed. I don’t agree with some things he said about the pandemic, I think, were very wrong. You know, ‘we shouldn’t treat people who don’t get vaccinated.’ Stuff like that,” Maher added.

Stern broadcast his SiriusXM radio show from home throughout the pandemic and, by his own admission, has rarely ventured outside. In October 2022, Page Six reported that Stern went out to dinner with a group of friends for the first time since the pandemic began.

Howard Stern
Howard Stern is outspoken about his fear of germs.

Stern later described the toll the outing took on him during an episode of his show.

“I really had an exhausting weekend, emotionally, physically,” Stern said. “For the first time in two years I ventured out of the house.”

Howard Stern
Howard Stern hosts a SiriusXM radio show.
GC Images

“It was too much for me. It was too much. I haven’t been out in two years,” Stern added.

As Maher referenced, Stern has also been an outspoken critic of anti-vaccine viewpoints and argued COVID-19 vaccination should be mandatory.

Mediaite was first to report on Maher’s remarks.


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Tyler Cowan