The “Real Time” Twitter account Thursday announced the cancellation of Friday’s episode after the fully vaccinated host “tested positive during weekly staff PCR testing for COVID.” The tweet continues that Maher “is asymptomatic and feels fine.”
“‘Real Time’ production has taken every precaution following COVID CDC guidelines. No other staff or crew members have tested positive at this time,” the tweet says.
Maher, who most assuredly will comment on the situation when he returns to his show, tweeted thanks to well-wishers later Thursday, while noting that he doesn’t feel sick. He also lamented missing an episode, ending a streak that he says started in 1993 with an earlier show, ABC’s “Politically Incorrect,” and extended to “Real Time,” which premiered in 2003.
“Thanks to all wishing me get well – hard to do since I feel perfectly fine, but I appreciate it! Most upset about ending my streak going back to 1993 of never missing a Politically Incorrect or Real Time episode. Oh well, even Cal Ripken had to sit one out at some point,” he wrote.
Friday’s show was scheduled to include a one-on-one interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, with the weekly in-studio roundtable panel featuring national security expert Max Brooks and podcast host Dan Carlin. It will be rescheduled at a later date. Original episodes of “Real Time” air on HBO Fridays at 10 EDT/PDT and also stream on HBO Max.
Maher, 65, who has often discussed COVID during show interviews and in his topical standup bits at the start of each “Real Time” episode, conducted many episodes from his home during the early months of the pandemic before eventually moving back into his Television City studio in Los Angeles as restrictions were gradually relaxed. Over time, “Real Time” added a limited number of studio audience members, all tested for COVID and wearing masks, as Maher noted during the show. He welcomed the audience’s return.
The host has been especially happy in recent weeks as rising vaccination numbers and dropping COVID case numbers meant the impending return of standup comedy dates around the country.
HBO did not comment beyond the show’s tweet.