Last Week Tonight, John Oliver’s follow-up to his stint on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, ended this month with better ratings than the programs of his HBO colleagues, Bill Maher and Lena Dunham. You need to subscribe to the premium network to watch his program (either on cable or by going directly to HBO.Go online), or you can watch excerpts from the show for free on YouTube, like this clip on net neutrality. More than 9 million page views can’t be wrong.
“If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring,” Oliver says, commenting on a C-Span clip of some mid-level cubicle mole ‘splaining the FCC regulation in question. The episode aired in June, but the net neutrality debate is a hot topic, with President Obama recently claiming to be in favor of keeping our open and free Internet open and free (despite having appointed former cable industry lobbyist, Tom Wheeler, as the new head of the FCC). Whatever, net neutrality is still boring. But Oliver breaks it all down for us in this hilarious 13-minute segment, ending with a call to “Internet trolls” to come out from under their bridges and bombard the FCC with pro-neutrality tirades. The strategy led to a temporary hair clog on the FCC website.
Last Week Tonight has, thankfully, been renewed for 2015. The show offers not only a brief round-up of the week’s news, but also an in-depth dissection of an issue or institution ripe for Oliver’s brand of humiliating disbelief: FIFA, the Miss America pageant, sugar, etc. His specialty is unwrapping the risible packaging shrouding the absurd enigma obscuring the ludicrous reality of a story, punctuating his gymnastic perorations with the kooky, well-placed metaphor. He likens Wheeler’s oversight of the FCC to hiring a dingo to babysit your toddler.
I’m not sure how Last Week Tonight managed to concoct 24 shows in which Oliver does all the talking. I’m not sure where Oliver finds the stamina. I’m not sure why he is fond of plaid dress shirts. But his legion of viewers (me included) is happy to surf his YouTube clips until his program returns on Feb. 8th, 2015.
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