Television Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Rooney in Paris

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Do any of you watch this?

John Oliver is a former writer of the Daily Show, a stand up comedian (participated in the early seasons of Mock the Week) and had a part in the TV show Community.

His show Last Week Tonight is aired once a week on HBO (it's on a break now but returns in February for a second season) and has been a bit of a hit. Unlike the shows aired on a daily basis (Daily Show or Colbert Report), John Oliver goes into more depth in at least one segment per week where he analyzes a topic with a lot of humour and shocked incredulity. Seems like a very clever articulate guy, and some of his stuff his hilarious. A lot of the clips are on the Youtube page, worth checking out.

The FIFA one is one of my favourites


but thought the Net neutrality one was excellent


and the Miss America one was where it came very close to being real journalism, in a way


Community fans will also know John Oliver for voicing Dr. Xenon Bloom in Anatomy Park.

 

ThierryHenry

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Still surprised he's made it so big, was always hit and miss on the Daily Show. Congrats to him though, the clips I've see of Last Week are always great.
 

Mockney

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I like him, and he is pretty good, but I can't shake the impression there are loads of people better at his schtick in England, and he's gotten this huge profile in America by basically looking, sounding and acting exactly like an amusing American stereotype of British people. Which is sort of bolstered by the fact he wasn't a big deal here. Or indeed any kind of deal at all. He's like a sort of reverse Ruby Wax.

Which is fine. Good for him. But I'm a bit meh to him for some reason.
 
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Snow

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I like him, and he is pretty good, but I can't shake the impression there are loads of people better at his schtick in England, and he's gotten this huge profile in America by basically looking, sounding and acting exactly like an amusing American stereotype of British people. Which is sort of bolstered by the fact he wasn't a big deal here. Or indeed any kind of deal at all. He's like a sort of reverse Ruby Wax.

Which is fine. Good for him. But I'm a bit meh to him for some reason.
He's been on TV for a longer time in America than he was in the UK. Moved to the States because of the Daily Show. Him not being a big deal in the UK really has little to do with it. It's not really typical to become big in a few years by just doing panel show stuff.

He was popular on the Daily Show, has that cult followers thing from Community and he's well spoken and can improvise which is what is needed. He's good at what he does. Can't really compare him to anyone in the UK as there's a different crowd.

I'm meh too. I like his extended bits on various subjects but I'm not sitting at home anticipating the next one.
 

reelworld

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One of my favorite show. A bit annoyed when he started shouting his jokes though. But other than that, the show is excellent. The one with the US nuclear missile was really good. And I love when he ended the episode about prisons with singing muppets
 

rcoobc

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Yeah, less shouting please. But other than that he is brilliant and it's a brilliant show. We need a version of it here
 

kps88

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I like him, and he is pretty good, but I can't shake the impression there are loads of people better at his schtick in England, and he's gotten this huge profile in America by basically looking, sounding and acting exactly like an amusing American stereotype of British people. Which is sort of bolstered by the fact he wasn't a big deal here. Or indeed any kind of deal at all. He's like a sort of reverse Ruby Wax.

Which is fine. Good for him. But I'm a bit meh to him for some reason.
Out of interest, can you recommend some English commentators who are better than him?
 

Dante

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Most of his jokes are incredibly predictable. Every time he delivers a 'punchline' I expect him to repeat it with a slap on the table. Actually, I'll often say it out loud along with him.

I only tolerate the show for the quality of his reporting, which is more of an indictment of news channels than a compliment to Oliver.
 

Cina

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Yeah they're almost as predictable as you not liking something at this stage.
 

Rooney in Paris

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I like him, and he is pretty good, but I can't shake the impression there are loads of people better at his schtick in England, and he's gotten this huge profile in America by basically looking, sounding and acting exactly like an amusing American stereotype of British people. Which is sort of bolstered by the fact he wasn't a big deal here. Or indeed any kind of deal at all. He's like a sort of reverse Ruby Wax.

Which is fine. Good for him. But I'm a bit meh to him for some reason.
I think that's pretty fair in that his English persona is a full part of the show and gives him the benefit of being able to act as an outsider on different topics. I don't know whether he's successful because he looks like what an American would expect an Englishman to look like, but he definitely uses it to his advantage. I don't think it should count against him though, even though I realize that's not really what you're saying.

Another thing I appreciate about his show is that he has a huge freedom of tone, he uses obscenity pretty well overall but especially can have a go at major corporations without worrying about it due to HBO's business model (which he actually jokes about in one segment, saying that "no one has been able to explain it to him").
Still surprised he's made it so big, was always hit and miss on the Daily Show. Congrats to him though, the clips I've see of Last Week are always great.
I never really watched the Daily Show except for little bits that might have gone viral, so I can't really judge. I think he's probably managed to form a good team of writers (the writing of his show is very good, it's pretty tight, manages to convey a point and remains fun) and he delivers it well. I think where he's very good is that he actually sounds like he's interested in what he's talking about, you really do want to listen to him.
 

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I have no idea either, yet.
I heard him first on Fighting Talk, years ago, and he was funny then. His popularity was on an upward curve in England when he got the Daily Show break.
 

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His bit on the supplement industry and Dr Oz was great. He's funny and more watchable than most comedians that do similar kinds of things (e.g. Russell Howard) and doesn't come across as preachy/dickish (i.e. Russell Brand). He had some good moments on the daily show as well (hosting and the gun control in Australia bit). They're all terrible interviewers though (Stewart and Colbert included) but all three shows and Bill Maher's new rules segment are usually pretty good.
 

Rooney in Paris

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They were discussing changing the format in the next season, maybe doing an hour long show. I'm a bit torn, as I think the current format works very well, but then again I guess he could get even more in depth analysis with an hour to play around with.

One criticism I do have for the show are the 'And now, this' parts, which seem a bit random and while amusing, feel a bit at odds with the rest of the show. Think he could integrate them better.
 

kotha

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Still surprised he's made it so big, was always hit and miss on the Daily Show. Congrats to him though, the clips I've see of Last Week are always great.
My sentiments exactly.. Maybe I was hard on him and compared him to Jon Stewart.. Anyway his new show is very good,loved the episode on FIFA..
 

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He's great. Satirical social commentary at its finest. His bit on nuclear weapons is pretty terrifying mind you.

 

ravi2

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One of the best shows on tv ... love this guy.
His piece on FIFA was amazing and got me to realize what sort of organization it really is.
 

Cina

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I think the lotteries one was the best as it really highlighted how absurd certain aspects of America are.
 

moses

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I have no idea either, yet.
Yeah, less shouting please. But other than that he is brilliant and it's a brilliant show. We need a version of it here
He shouts so his audience will know it's the punchline, IMO, as annoying as it is, it's still better than the live band drumroll other US shows use.
 

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I quite enjoy this kind of stuff. I've only ever caught clips of it on facebook, but I think I'll start watching the show.
 

Alock1

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Very surprised how highly you guys seem to be rating him after watching that Fifa video. Saw it a few months ago aswel and thought similar then.
 

Elliott

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Well-written show. Oliver's already starting to feel like a bit of a one-trick pony though. There's talk of giving him 3 nights a week once he "finds his feet" and I strongly doubt he'll be able to pull that off.
 

reelworld

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Well-written show. Oliver's already starting to feel like a bit of a one-trick pony though. There's talk of giving him 3 nights a week once he "finds his feet" and I strongly doubt he'll be able to pull that off.
I think he took one of the writer from the Daily Show into this one. But yeah, I like the current one 30 mins eps per week though. It's obvious the amount of research that the writers is doing is enormous, I fear that too much episodes in one week would compromise that.
 

Rooney in Paris

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Huffington Post liked the show:

Why 'Last Week Tonight With John Oliver' Was 2014's Best Show

Over the past year, the following things happened on television, each wonderful in its own right. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson amplified our obsessive viewing habits with "True Detective," "Broad City" redefined friendship comedy, "Orange Is the New Black" and "House of Cards" proved Netflix's dominion has far from waned, "Game of Thrones" kept the shocking deaths coming, "Veep" and "Silicon Valley" put Sunday comedy on par with the night's prestige dramas, Maya Rudolph hosted a variety show, "The Normal Heart" honored Larry Kramer's legacy, "The Good Wife" said goodbye to Will and hello to Alicia's political campaign, "Transparent" built a world at once simple and radical, "Black-ish" showed there's still hope for network comedy, "The Comeback" returned after nine years and Shondaland demanded our calendars stay clear on Thursday nights. All of these programs, with their illustrious casts and revered showrunners, were noteworthy, as expected. But the year's most surprising contribution to television is a show that bucked conventional formats, left us buzzing and paved the way for a burgeoning dynasty. "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" is 2014's crowning achievement.

Seen as HBO's attempt to cut a slice of "The Daily Show" pie (hosted by a "The Daily Show" alum, no less), "Last Week Tonight" debuted to mild fanfare. The 1.4 million viewers who caught the April 27 premiere gave HBO something to celebrate, but the glory is in the details: By September, Oliver's show amassed an average 4.1 million viewers, including DVR, on-demand and HBO Go streams. That puts "Last Week Tonight" ahead of the 4 million that 11-year-old "Real Time with Bill Maher" averages, and creates an impressive wave within the sea of must-see Sunday television. But the real rubric by which we should measure "Last Week Tonight" is the one it conquered most handily: the online water-cooler.

If you booted up your computer on a Monday morning between the premiere and Nov. 9, when the "Last Week Tonight" finale aired, you probably caught a barrage of John Oliver diatribes clipped and headlined across the Web. Often they implied a veritable castigation of one or more of the week's news topics. (Our friends at HuffPost Comedy, HuffPost Media and HuffPost Sports gave us the following: John Oliver Destroys Pumpkin Spice Lattes, John Oliver Explains Why Lotteries Don't Really Help Fund Education, John Oliver Lambastes Media Over NYC Ebola Coverage, John Oliver Skewers Roger Goodell, John Oliver Explains Everything That's Wrong With The Miss America Pageant, John Oliver Demands FCC Chair Tom Wheeler Prove He's NOT A Dingo, Watch John Oliver Verbally Pants Dr. Oz Over Dietary Supplements. The list goes on.)

Each of these clips went viral, which is nothing Oliver counterparts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert aren't accustomed to. But "Last Week Tonight" tidbits found a singular significance because they're able to play a more thoughtful role in the realm of the news-comedy hybrid. Stewart and Colbert revolutionized the way news is consumed and processed, but their shows suffer from Same-Day Syndrome. "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" can only remain as timely as their early-evening tapings allow. Given the cliché of the 24-hour news cycle and the breakneck pace of social media, any daily news program (even a comedy-oriented one) that doesn't air live suffers potential information lapses, especially when discussing momentum-building events like Ferguson, the missing Malaysian Airlines plane, the Gaza Strip conflicts and the sexual-abuse allegations against Bill Cosby.

"Last Week Tonight" steps in with the trait Stewart's and Colbert's programs lack: perspective. Oliver has the advantage of seven-day analysis, which has proven poignant. A story that breaks on Monday, metamorphoses on Wednesday and becomes a media spectacle by Saturday has the leverage of being assessed via the steady info dump that unfolds in the days after something becomes a front-page item. (Think, for example, of the media frenzy surrounding Ebola.) In that regard, "Last Week Tonight" is of the moment in a way that almost nothing else on television is. In a year with as many atrocities as 2014, we're left with a desperate need for scrutiny instead of reaction. Oliver and his team provide that without ever losing the show'sentertainment factor. What began as a questionable experiment -- why watch a Jon Stewart apprentice repurpose what Jon Stewart has successfully done for 15 years? -- has become one of the defining conversation starters in both popular culture and news media.

It's refreshing to see "Last Week Tonight" thrive outside the confines of the binge-obsessive manner in which we consume television. We don't have to bookend the show's excellence with talk of the disparity between prestige drama and middling comedy, and we need not weigh the value of Reddit threads or a dozen episodes being dumped onto a streaming service at once. It's one of the rare programs that's managed to rise above the merit of its premise this year. John Oliver has won us over by proving the year's most important TV program doesn't need a sprawling ensemble, an edgy distribution model or a live-tweeting bonanza. Instead we'll take a winning star, astute tactics and a self-awareness that's remarkably on point.