LOGO

TBT Comedy: The Time Donald Trump Sued Bill Maher To Prove He Wasn’t An Orangutan

Throw-Back-Thursday Comedy: Donald Trump Once Sued Bill Maher To Prove He Wasn’t A Big Hairy Ape. Yes, Really!

This story is fucking bananas. And if you aren’t familiar with it, you’re going to repeatedly find yourself saying “wait… no… did this really happen?” The answer will always be yes. Try to keep that in mind as our first-ever TBT Comedy story recollects the time Donald Trump sued comedian Bill Maher in an effort to prove to the world that he wasn’t half-orangutan.

As many of you reading this probably already know, current “President” and former B-list reality TV celebrity Donald Trump was once a “Birther” — a conspiracy theorist who believed, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, that then-President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Trump maintained this ridiculous assertion until September of 2016.

Back in his not-that-long-ago lunatic fringe days, in October of 2012, Donald Trump offered to donate $5 million to a charity of President Obama’s choosing if Obama would reveal his college applications and records, as well as his passport applications and records, to the world.

Funnily enough, when The Guardian asked to see those same records from Trump, Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, refused, saying Trump wasn’t running for President. Trump is President today, technically anyway… we still haven’t seen his college transcripts or passport records, have we? Anyway, let’s move along.

Trump’s “Birtherism” set the perfect stage for comedy, and HBO late night host Bill Maher is pretty good at striking when the iron is hot. Later that same month, the Real Time host joked on his show’s popular “New Rules” segment that Donald Trump’s mother had sexual relations with an orangutan, and that “The Donald” was clearly the offspring (here’s a low-quality video link).

“New rule, Donald Trump must immediately submit to a DNA test to determine whether he is, in fact, the love-child of a human woman and an orangutan from the Brooklyn Zoo. Look, Donald, I’m not saying that your mother was repeatedly fucking an orangutan back in the 1940’s. I don’t know if that’s true, I hope it’s not true. But given your face, your physique, your intelligence level… and of course your hair… the American people deserve some real proof that your mother did not spend most nights in 1945 covering her body in banana oil, sneaking into the monkey cage, and compulsively humping an orange-haired ape.”

But the monkey poop really got flung at the fan in January, when Maher appeared on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. During that appearance Maher, riffing off of Trump’s ridiculous previous offering to Obama, joked that he would pay $5 million to the charity of Donald Trump’s choosing — “The Hair Club for Men, the Institute for Incorrigible Douchebaggery, whatever charity” — If Trump would reveal his birth certificate and prove once and for all that both of his parents were humans.

That’s when this story went from funny to absolutely hilarious. Because the notoriously thin-skinned Trump couldn’t let the joke go by without a response… and that response came in the form of a lawsuit for $5 million.

Responding the very next day to Maher’s joke on The Tonight Show, Trump sent Maher a letter stating that he accepted Maher’s challenge, and included a copy of his short-form birth certificate (which was funny in and of itself, since Birthers famously refused to accept that Obama’s short-form birth certificate was real) which CNN later revealed in the lawsuit’s court filings.

Donald Trump's birth certificate proving his father wasn't an Orangutan
Donald Trump’s short-form birth certificate, as presented in court documents in 2013, which was shown to prove that Trump’s parents were both human and that neither was an Orangutan.

That birth certificate was Trump’s attempt to prove that no, his mother didn’t have sex with an orangutan… or at least that his father was a human and not an ape, as Maher had suggested in his joke.

Trump claimed at the time that should he win the lawsuit, he’d donate the full $5 million to a number of charities, mimicking the offer he had originally made to President Obama with regards to his college and passport records. Of course, that would apparently be the most money he’s ever donated to charities in his life, wouldn’t it? But hey, yet again, I digress.

Bill Maher’s reaction to the lawsuit pretty much sums up everything you’ve been thinking about said lawsuit up to this point:

Trump ultimately dropped the lawsuit a month later, with Michael Cohen claiming they’d amend and refile the suit “at a later date.” As of April 20th of 2017, that lawsuit hasn’t resurfaced.

So there you have it, folks. When a late night comedian insulted Donald Trump and insisted his father was an orangutan, Trump apparently saw so much truth in Maher’s statements that he felt compelled to sue over it, turning Maher’s decent joke into one of the funniest politically-charged moments of this century so far.

I guess we’ll never get to see Trump’s long-form birth certificate. Or his college records. Or his passport/ travel records. Or his tax returns. Or DNA evidence that both of his parents were human and not just apes with human-sounding names. Or… well, you get the idea.

Featured image courtesy of Giorgio Cosulich/ Getty Images

Matt Terzi is a political satirist and essayist from Binghamton, New York, who has written for some of the most prominent satire publications in the country. He's now moving into more "serious" subject matter, without losing touch with his comedic roots