Whether it be a depressing plane crash, or a frivolous lawsuit between two major corporations, John Oliver delivers the facts with just the right amount of wit, sarcasm, and seriousness. John Oliver is able to take the most boring news story and turn it into something informative, hilarious, and worth watching. This show benefits humanity by making issues easy to understand yet comical. -Vince Paddon
There plenty of jokes in Last Week Tonight not unlike the ones in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, only the delivery is less polished and can even come off as annoying, pulling lines not unlike the infamous “really?”. Both shows have excellent pre-recorded content. That said, I believe Oliver’s show is hugely important, likely more so than Stewart’s. Last Week Tonightbrings to light issues that never get discussed in mainstream news, and he really does explain them. These segments consistently go viral, more so than Colbert and Stewart have ever accomplished. While Stewart focuses more on taking down the mainstream news and the hypocrisies of it, Oliver looks at the issues that directly effect people. A lack of commercials on HBO allows the show to have its own organic pacing and layout, which seems almost revolutionary in comparison to 5 minute segments. Despite the flaws mentioned, it’s a brilliant show and you should be watching it. It’s an exciting, untraditional form of TV journalism. -Tyler Simpson
On Last Week Tonight Oliver has found his own personality – just a low-key 37-year-old geek from Birmingham wandering through the political scene looking for bullshit. And it helps that he’s on a cable network where he can actually call it “bullshit.”
At first blush, Oliver might not seem as sharp as Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, but he doesn’t need to be. Last Week Tonight has a huge advantage over the other faux-news roundups: It runs once a week. It’s like the “slow food” approach to topical comedy – instead of trying to compete with social media (or Stewart), he can hit harder with rants like his instant-classic tirade on Net neutrality. That was Oliver’s star-making moment – he spent 13 minutes delivering a fact-quoting breakdown of legislation that makes most of our brains fuzz over.
This show is informative about topics that the average educated person has a vague notion about; but then expounds upon said topic, informing of greater depth you may not have known about. All the while keeping it witty, sarcastic, and all around fun to watch. He may only be 8 episodes in so far, but I feel if John Oliver and his writers keep this level of quality going then they have a legendary show in the making.
In an era during which even the most celebrated newsmagazines have taken to relying on soft celebrity interviews and tales of heinous murders, many could learn something from “Last Week Tonight.” The program is drawing people in with the promise of laughter, but sending them back out to the world with an unexpected element: knowledge.
“Last Week Tonight” was perfectly fine but did nothing to deflect being construed as a “Daily Show” knockoff – the fifth episode Stewart doesn’t do, only with F-bombs.
Truth be told, one has to wonder if Oliver wasn’t a tad premature in leaping at HBO’s offer, given Stephen Colbert’s move to CBS. At Comedy Central, he could have slid into “The Colbert Report” slot with scarcely a ripple, having become the obvious heir while keeping Stewart’s seat warm.
He also devoted an extended stretch to the U.S. media essentially ignoring the election in India, segueing into a very clever bit on how India’s media exhibits the same excesses as America’s cable news. And his closing piece on trying to rebrand the NSA was equally well done.
Oliver has the benefit of additional content, of course – without having to worry about advertising, and no time-filling studio interview – but that doesn’t necessarily work to the advantage of this sort of exercise, even with a few short taped pieces to break up the flow.
Long segments are possible due to the lack of commercial breaks which is a definite constraint on segment length/editing in a typical television setting. I feel this freedom, let alone the lack of network imposed censorship, is what allows for the in-depth coverage of issues that makes the show stand out.
John Oliver, a graduate of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” didn’t exactly break the mold when he rolled out his new show, Last Week Tonight, late on Sunday on HBO; he just tugged at it a bit.
All in all, it was pretty standard stuff. But there was one way in which Mr. Oliver stood out: cursing without being bleeped. The first time it happened, it was startling, so accustomed are we to hearing the bleep in his “Daily Show” segments. After that, it was kind of refreshing, especially since he deployed the salty language sparingly. Now if only he would shake up the format a bit.
HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” has a lot going for it: John Oliver is brilliant. And HBO has given him the freedom to do a news-based comedy show with more depth than most straight news shows.
In its first episode, “Last Week” felt like an investigative version of “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live.” “Update” is funny, but because of its broad audience, tends to go for ad hominem jokes (Chris Christie is fat) rather than anything close to genuine political satire. “Update” is kind of a pressure valve, allowing us to make fun of these politicians we’re stuck with. Stewart and Stephen Colbert, on the other hand, demand that our politicians be better.
Oliver is obviously in their camp – the sharper, more ambitious, and ultimately more hopeful one. He complains because he knows we could be better than we are. He has concrete ideas – lots of them – for improving our politics, media coverage, and even government food labeling.
Oliver’s best joke so far is his honesty: He tells it like it is in a way he couldn’t on Comedy Central.
The fact that so much of the show relies on Oliver means he bears the burden of getting the tone exactly right. And right now, he’s a little more angry than funny.
I really appreciate what John Oliver does with this show – not only does he bring important issues to light that may have gone unnoticed by some viewers, but he also calls people out on their shit.
As corny as it might sound, Oliver is performing a public service with his program. He is following in the tradition of our finest journalists, which is to help us understand the hidden systems of power and injustice in the world around us.
It is my hope that he’ll see the initial success of “Last Week Tonight” as a testament not to his comedic chops but to his moral instincts, and to the stunning, hopeful revelation that Americans want more substance and insight than they’ve been getting from their Fourth Estate — even from a Brit who steps on his own laugh lines.
Oliver’s less comedian and more newsman than Stewart or Colbert, and I’m a fan of all three. His somewhat off delivery and weird need to sometimes shout a punchline immediately after saying it the first time aren’t particularly funny, but his features are incredible. It’s also somewhat noteworthy that, while Stewart and Colbert focus specifically on lampooning other “news” organizations, Oliver’s more worldly focused, and generally only plays clips from other networks that serve to explain part of a point he’s making. The fact that there’s someone out there, with a solid fanbase, who is actually talking about some of these issues and bringing them to our cultural attention is amazing. In thirteen episodes, he’s done more educating than either other show have done in a year.