I love to laugh, and there is nothing I like to laugh at more than American politics. Maybe I have been so deprived of political scandals that involve sex, drugs, and money because I’m Canadian, but American politics has it all. Now, I don’t like watching the American news because I find that it is too sensationalized; to be honest, it is mostly a boring waste of time. What I do enjoy watching are comedians talking about the news and how ridiculous things can become south of the 49th Parallel. So of course over the years I have enjoyed the likes of Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, and of course Jon Stewart. One new show from HBO is looking to change things a bit: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
The biggest issue with most political satire shows is typically the format of daily programming. Daily programming is great for a network looking for content, but isn’t as great when it comes to actual content for the show. With Last Week Tonight, we have a weekly show that is able to sum up the most important events of the week and chooses which ones to highlight and discuss. This discussion part is where the show really sticks out. The show differs from its competitors because of the way it discusses important topics. They do this in a long form essay style manner that allows Oliver to discuss important topics with his audience. He has discussed such hotly debated political issues such as gun control and the death penalty. He also has discussed some partially unknown political issues that seem to be plaguing the American system, such as payday loans and the oversight of predator drones. He even strays into less political territory, such as the FIFA world.
All these arguments are made quite elegantly by Oliver, with a dash of comedy to take the edge off. His discussions are uncommon in today’s media, in which most of the debating you get is from a panel where two to four people argue a point for a few minutes and then end the discussion. The format that Oliver has used allows us to hear his side of the debate and then allows others to research and refute his ideas. This allows for others to get into the conversation and doesn’t create the homogeneity of superficial ideas which the media typically perpetuates. So far, there haven’t been many people that argued his points with the hilarious exception of FCC chair Tom Wheeler, stating for the record he was not a dingo after being asked about Oliver’s segment about net-neutrality. Oliver in the segment compared him to a dingo because he used to lobby the FCC and now he is the chair of it, which Oliver thought was a conflict of interest. This of course became an awesome bit on his show the following week in which Oliver asked him to prove that he was not a dingo, because only a dingo would deny so vehemently that they were a dingo.
Last Week Tonight follows a familiar format – discuss and make fun of the week’s stupid political happenings – but it is unique because of the lovable John Oliver and his eloquent answers to difficult questions that will both educate you and make you laugh. This show satisfies my favourite pastime, and I recommend it to anyone because it is only going to get better from here.