Bill Maher Slammed For Using N-Word on 'Real Time', Senator Ben Sasse Laughs

89th Academy Awards - Oscars Vanity Fair Party - Beverly Hills, California, U.S. - 26/02/17 – Comedian Bill Maher. Danny Moloshok/Reuters

HBO's Real Time host Bill Maher has drawn widespread criticism after using a racial slur on television in an interview Friday night with Republican Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse.

During the interview, Sasse jokingly asked Maher to visit the state and work the fields. The host responded by saying: "Work in the fields? Senator, I'm a house nigger." After some audience members groaned and others clapped, Maher clarified: "It's a joke." The pair then moved on to other topics.

Known for his frequently controversial and provocative statements, Maher is in his 15th season as Real Time host, and previously hosted the show Politically Incorrect.

Well-known Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson was among Maher's critics "But really, Bill Maher has got to go. There are no explanations that make this acceptable," he tweeted.

But really, @BillMaher has got to go. There are no explanations that make this acceptable.

— deray (@deray) June 3, 2017

Alt-right journalist Jack Posobiec also called for the host's dismissal. "Bill Maher must be fired immediately for his racism and belittling the struggle of millions of black Americans," he tweeted.

Writer and journalist Wajahat Ali alluded to previous criticism of Maher for allegedly making Islamophobic comments as Real Time host and in his comedy act.

"People shocked at Bill Maher being racist-y, check w your Arab & Muslim friends. Been doing this for a LONG time, but he got hall passes," he tweeted.

Sasse had appeared on the show to promote his book, The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance, in which he advocates manual labor as a way of building character in young people.

Maher also faced criticism in February for inviting alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos onto Real Time, with journalist Jeremy Scahill refusing to appear alongside the former Breitbart editor, arguing the show would help "legitimize his hateful agenda."

Maher has not responded to critics after Friday night's incident.