Bill Maher Downplays Jada Pinkett Smith's Alopecia on 'Real Time' : 'It's Not Leukemia'

"Just put on a f—ing wig," Bill Maher argued as he downplayed Jada Pinkett Smith's alopecia after her husband Will Smith smacked Chris Rock at the Oscars for joking about her hairstyle

Bill Maher and Jada Pinkett Smith
Photo: Arturo Holmes/FilmMagic; Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty

Bill Maher has added his two cents to the discourse around Will Smith smacking Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards.

The Real Time host, 66, chose to go after Jada Pinkett Smith and her struggle with alopecia Friday on his HBO talk show, downplaying the condition in his opening monologue before taking aim again later in the episode.

"I mean, alopecia, it's not leukemia, OK?" Maher said at the beginning the show. "Alopecia is when your hair falls out ... there are worst things."

He later doubled down on the topic in a discussion with guests Andrew Yang and Laura Coates, admitting that he first thought Rock, 57, crossed a line with his "G.I. Jane 2" joke about Pinkett Smith, 50, until he googled alopecia.

"If you are so lucky in life as to have that be your medical problem, just say 'Thanks God,'" he said. "It's not life threatening. It's part of — for most people, 80 percent of men, 50 percent of women — it's part of aging."

Jada Pinkett Smith
Rich Fury/VF22/Getty

"Aging is, trust me I know, it's the degradation of the flesh. It happens to all of us. And you know, just put on a f—ing wig like everybody else at the Oscars if it bothers you so much," Maher added.

Pinkett Smith has recently opened up about her hair loss as a result of her years-long struggle with alopecia. She recalled the "terrifying" moment she was confronted with the condition during a 2018 episode of Red Table Talk.

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"It was terrifying when it first started. I was in the shower one day and had just handfuls of hair in my hands and I was just like, 'Oh my god, am I going bald?'" Pinkett Smith recounted.

The debacle at last weekend's awards show unraveled after Rock made light of Pinkett Smith's shaved hairstyle. "Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see ya," he joked.

will smith
Chris Rock and Will Smith at the Oscars on March 27, 2022. Robyn Beck/getty

Smith, 53, then walked onto stage and smacked Rock in the face, leaving the audience and live viewers around the world stunned. "Oh wow," said a seemingly taken-aback Rock as Smith made his way back to his seat. "Will Smith just smacked the s— out of me."

"Keep my wife's name out your f—ing mouth!" Smith yelled up to the stage at Rock after taking his seat again.

After much online discussion and an inquiry launched by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Smith resigned from the Academy on Friday.

RELATED VIDEO: Jada Pinkett Smith Breaks Silence After Will Smith Apologizes to Chris Rock

"I have directly responded to the Academy's disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct," he said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. "My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. I betrayed the trust of the Academy."

"I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film," Smith added.

The Academy has since accepted his resignation, adding that it will "continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy's Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18."

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