Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Coronavirus III
March 30, 2020 11:07 PM - Season 7, Episode 6 - Subscribe

This week... main story: The Coronavirus pandemic, how some on the right seem willing to reopen the country to help the economy despite it meaning the deaths of hundreds of thousands more, and the many ways Trump has flubbed the nation's response, including getting visibly angry at reporters doing their jobs questioning him about his statement that he wants to reopen the country by Easter RGRGHA%$%&$@ sorry I can't even. It's on YouTube. And Now: Yes, We Are Still Doing These. And Now: Hey, Look! We're Social Distancing. And finally, South-Central Pennsylvania's Gallery Thirty-Three video art auction from 1992, and the work of a certain Brian Swords of York, aka Biohazard.

John Oliver, on--
His home: "A blank white void full of sad facts. Where else did you think I lived?"
Trump: "OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE! No one is thinking about you! These guidelines did not revolve around you! For once, something has come along that is more toxic and more threatening than this President, and somehow he's got fucking stage envy! And look... I know, this isn't exactly the first time that I've criticized Donald Trump, but I can't tell you how much I was rooting for him to do this better."
On the US: "We're being forced to confront some of the strangest, darkest implications of our national mindset, in which market worship threatens to become a fucking death cult."
Television: "The one and only method by which you should let Guy Fieri into your home, and even then, it's not a great idea."

Brian "Biohazard" Swords' work "Stay Up Late," as seen on Gallery Thirty-Three, is sought by Last Week Tonight, and they're offering $1,000 for it, plus $20,000 to your local area food bank. If you know where it can be found, please email john[at] (Note how I spam-obstructed that email address, saving John Oliver from getting spam and not information on how to obtain cartoon furry erotica from 1992.)

Newsweek: The True Story Behind 'Last Week Tonight's' Rat Erotica Painting

"Scruba Dubum" F.37 WASHING HANDS
posted by JHarris (20 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for posting. This is I think the first episode that I decided not to watch, on purpose. I am limiting CV news for my own sanity. But I am a bit tempted cause I missed John.

So... how triggering is it, anxiety-wise? I mean, if it is, don't give examples here, just say it's a seven on a scale from 0 to 10 and I'll keep skipping it.
posted by M. at 6:54 AM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

So... how triggering is it, anxiety-wise?

I found it to be less about "Here's how horrible coronavirus is" and more "Here's how horrible Trump's response has been", so I wouldn't consider it to be too anxiousmaking.
posted by Etrigan at 7:45 AM on March 31, 2020 [2 favorites]

posted by grandiloquiet at 8:34 AM on March 31, 2020 [6 favorites]

I watched it last night; I would say it's a 7 or 8. It is very much about how terrible the US response has been, both in terms of lack of central leadership and in the self-aggrandizement of said leadership. That lack of leadership is causing some really stupid competition between regions.
There's less humor leavening the piece and more anger throughout; to me that is appropriate for the subject and the times we're living in, but it leaves one feeling less than hopeful. I'm trying to describe what watching it feels like rather than give examples.
I'll watch whatever they post next, but will be ready for less-than-funny. I won't rewatch this.
posted by winesong at 8:38 AM on March 31, 2020

Thank you so much, this is very helpful. I will bow out of the thread now so I don't prevent people from discussing specifics. If anyone is interested, there is a piece on YouTube with Steven Colbert interviewing John Oliver over the internet, it just got posted a few hours ago:

Hosting LWT in isolation
Trump (who else)
"I can't wait to rub my hand in your face"

Hang in there everyone.
posted by M. at 8:47 AM on March 31, 2020 [3 favorites]

"Yes, we're still doing these" cracked me up. And I SO hope he finds the rat art!!
posted by Frayed Knot at 8:50 AM on March 31, 2020

And I SO hope he finds the rat art!!

I believe that create terminology is eRATica.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:51 AM on March 31, 2020 [5 favorites]

I always suspected Oliver was into furries. And I thoroughly expect that by the time this is all over, he'll be doing his show in a Rat Suit (with remote footage of him dragging a Egg McMuffin around New York).
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:24 PM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

My gut feeling is that Oliver isn't so much into furries, specifically, but that he's totally and completely open minded and along a similar vein of taking joy in mocking himself, he feels solidarity with those that the mainstream mocks or looks down upon.

But - you have an excellent point oneswellfoop, there are definitely a lot of mascot-esque costumes associated with the show... and Reddit apparently fully agrees with you.

But yeah, I wonder if someone remembered the paintings from watching public tele in their youths, or if one of the show's writers stumbled upon this by accident. The style and technical proficiency of the artist reminds me a lot of a subfraction of deviantart in the 00's, but being from 1992... time traveler?

As for 1992 masquerading as 1988, I was in Iowa in '96-00 for college and the older folk's (30-somethings) style/ wardrobe felt like the late 80s were tenaciously hanging on. But then again, re-watching the first season of The X-Files (1993), Vancouver BC extras/ costuming/ fashion had either a bad 80's hangover or went into a evolutionary dead-end (the iconic pastel/ neon triangle panels in puffy black windbreakers). Also throw in some Canadiana (eg., Canadian tuxedos).
posted by porpoise at 9:16 PM on March 31, 2020

Oliver's old Daily Show colleague Sam Bee had a rather touching piece about furries on her own show last week.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:09 AM on April 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

I really like this format for the show; even if it weren't necessary it just feels more appropriate. In terms of how triggering, to me I actually find it comforting, to know that I'm not the only one who's pissed off, scared, and really desiring to make sense of something that doesn't make any sense, all at the same time. I know it's important to watch your media diet but i would say that right now Jon is one to keep, get rid of another one instead.
posted by bleep at 8:37 PM on April 1, 2020 [5 favorites]

Oh yeah and 1992 was fully in the 80s everywhere. The 90s didn't start until 1995 or 1996.
posted by bleep at 8:38 PM on April 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

Oh yeah and 1992 was fully in the 80s everywhere.

The '90s began when the drums kicked in on "Smells Like Teen Spirit", and Nevermind came out on September 24th, 1991.
posted by Etrigan at 11:26 AM on April 2, 2020 [4 favorites]

That Newsweek piece has an older interview with the artist that is full of goodness:

Biohazard worked in a long tradition of anthropomorphic adult comics, naming as an influence "Omaha" the Cat Dancer, by artist Reed Waller and writer Kate Worley, which debuted as a comic strip in the underground comix of the late 1970s and ran as an ongoing soap opera-style comic book series from 1984 to 1993.

"From the beginning, my art featured various anthropomorphic animals (foxes, sheep, horses and rats), but by 1988 I had settled on two particular rat characters, Alice and Bob," Biohazard told Dogpatch Press, citing the 1982 animated film The Secret of NIMH as a major influence. The characters' names, Bob and Alice, were inspired by a photograph he had purchased at a WITF art auction named after the 1969 movie Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.

posted by emjaybee at 12:13 PM on April 2, 2020

The '90s began when the drums kicked in on "Smells Like Teen Spirit", and Nevermind came out on September 24th, 1991.

The '90s ended with the 4/20/2001 release of Tom Green's Freddy Got Fingered.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:01 PM on April 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

I feel like it speaks to this show's foresight and generally competent understanding of COVID-19 that John Oliver seems too be the only late-night host who actually managed to arrange for a decent lighting setup in his home while socially distancing. I bet they started prepping earlier than most.
posted by mosst at 10:41 AM on April 3, 2020 [4 favorites]

His show might be the only organizational unit in the whole United States that actually gets an appropriate budget AND knows how to use it.
posted by bleep at 2:23 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Gallery 33 bit almost killed me. I laughed so hard I stopped breathing. Maybe I just needed the laugh but the bland commentary over the eratica with John Oliver's response just...bravo, Sir, bravo.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 10:43 PM on April 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

Where are you all finding this "second half?" It's not in the linked video.
posted by tzikeh at 2:21 AM on April 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, HBO didn't post the entire episode to YouTube this time, just the main story. It may also have been because some of Biohazard's work might not be considered safe for YouTube.
posted by JHarris at 11:36 PM on April 11, 2020

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