Howard Stern And Bill Maher's Rocky Friendship, Explained

Howard Stern and Bill Maher have had a contentious relationship that included a beef that lasted two decades. As Maher became a household name with the success of his late-night political talk show "Politically Incorrect" in the '90s, Stern claimed the show was his brainchild. According to Maher, those claims were rooted in envy. "He's insane and jealous. He hates anyone who has a good sex life," Maher told Rolling Stone in 1999. "So I just think he hates anyone who hasn't gotten married," the television personality said. Their differing views on marriage would be a point of friction in later years as well, but they were able to bury the hatchet.  

In June 2019, the two made amends as Maher appeared on "The Howard Stern Show" for the first time in 20 years. While on the air, the two media personalities spoke about their long-standing celebrity feud. "I take full responsibility in us not getting along," Stern said. Maher wasn't about to let him take all the blame, adding, "Back in those days, look, we were both a**holes."

Later that year, Stern returned the favor and appeared as a guest on "Real Time with Bill Maher" in October 2019. They appeared on good terms, with Stern praising Maher for his interview months earlier. "I thought you were amazing, you really were," Stern said. They even bonded over their shared political views. Following their appearances on each other's shows, the friendship between Stern and Maher hit another rough patch.

Howard Stern gets angry Bill Maher's comments about his marriage

While Howard Stern and Bill Maher made amends, the two grew apart during the COVID-19 pandemic, as Stern preferred to isolate. "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 on a 2023 episode of his "Club Random Podcast." While Maher said the two were on good terms, he believed Stern's fear of getting sick had made the radio host a recluse.

Stern's handling of the pandemic was not the only behavior that rubbed Maher the wrong way. On another episode of his "Club Random Podcast" that aired later in the same year, Maher took issue with what he believed was moral grandstanding from Stern. "We know Howard had this other wife before Beth [Stern], so he's trying to make me seem like I'm the slightly immoral one because I won't settle down," Maher said. The stand-up comic thought Stern gushing over his current wife on-air was inconsiderate to the former Mrs. Stern. 

Those comments made their way back to Stern, who had strong words for Maher. "He ought to shut his mouth!" the radio host said on "The Howard Stern Show." Stern said he sent Maher an email but heard no word back. "I think I'm no longer friends with him," he added. However, the two soon reached a ceasefire.

Bill Maher apologizes to Howard Stern

Not long after Howard Stern wondered aloud if his friendship with Bill Maher was over, the pair settled their dust-up. On an episode of "The Howard Stern Show," which aired shortly after their beef began, Stern claimed that while his email to Maher remained unanswered, he did receive a phone call from the comedian. "I spoke to him over the weekend and I told him about my shock at this commentary and he was apologetic," Stern explained. "I'm not going to go into the details of the conversation, but I was pretty blunt. He seemed to get it." The two appeared to be back on good terms following Maher's apology. 

When Stern and Maher reconnected in 2019, they spoke about their differing views on matrimony — which has been a hot-button issue for the two for many years. "What I find is we're alike in so many ways, except that way," Maher said on "The Howard Stern Show" in 2019. "I never understood how you can just be with the same person," he added. Meanwhile, Stern explained why he preferred to be married. "I find it so wonderful and relaxing. I don't feel that pressure," Stern told Maher.