Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Cononavirus Testing
May 5, 2020 4:54 AM - Season 7, Episode 10 - Subscribe

This week: the show once again comes to us from the Blank White Void of Sad Facts. Alex Jones solemnly states on air "I'll admit it... I will eat my neighbors." The Coronavirus has, in three months, killed more Americans than the entire Vietnam War yet with no end in site, yet Jared Kushner essentially declared victory over it on Fox News. Ubiquitious testing is our only real way out of this problem, with current testing levels falling far short of what is needed despite having had months to improve the situation, so the main story tonight is: what happened? On YouTube (23m) And Now: Even During a Pandemic, Florida Just Can't Help But Be Florida. Finally, for some reason cats seem to love Last Week Tonight, so they decided to pander to them with a short spin-off show, "Cat Week Tonight." Contains Martin Sheen.

Adam Driver:
"Pull my heart out through my ear, you meaty oak tree."
"Impale my brain, you unacceptable monstrosity."
Cat Adam Driver:
"Scratch my sofa, you purring mountain."
"Eat my toilet paper, you fuzzy landslide."

F.37, "Dead Man Walkum," KIM JONG UN
posted by JHarris (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Speaking as a native Floridian, not everyone down here is a trashy moron. Many of us are polite, civilized people who enjoy living in modern society. I'm so tired of my state becoming the Internet's laughingstock just because our idiots are better publicized due to our sunshine law. I'd obliterate that stupid Bugs Bunny GIF where he's sawing Florida away from the rest of the country if I could.

In happier news, my fiancee loved the cats segment.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:00 AM on May 5, 2020 [5 favorites]

Cat Week Tonight had me screaming.
posted by bleep at 8:05 AM on May 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

My Trilby dozed through Cat Week Tonight. They'll have to show him the mice if they want his attention.
posted by orange swan at 8:13 AM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm watching because there is always good information, but without an audience the jokes don't land.
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:05 AM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I disagree about the jokes, I've adjusted to not having to have a laugh cue, but then I watch a lot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 which doesn't have a laugh track.
posted by JHarris at 1:21 PM on May 5, 2020 [5 favorites]

Laugh tracks are for losers.
posted by valkane at 5:13 PM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm loving it without the laugh track. I feel like the jokes actually land better without the laughs because the format of the show is more like a podcast where everything is pitched at the viewer/audience rather than the studio like in a traditional late night show, so the laughs were always out of place and awkward to me. Now it feels much more personal and intimate and podcast-like than ever.
posted by bleep at 6:50 PM on May 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

I think he's getting used to doing it without the audience.
The first few were really kind of awkward. They still had the pacing and delivery as if performing to the audience. But I feel like each one is a little more confident in itself as they get used to doing it without.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:33 AM on May 6, 2020 [4 favorites]

Why has no one figured out to do a big zoom conference call on another device in place of a studio audience? Prop an empty garbage can or box behind the speaker and it will sound like twice as many people.
posted by sexyrobot at 3:35 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

sexyrobot, the comedy show 'Even tot hier' does that, they have 100 audience members projected onto a screen where the audience usually sits. I like it a lot for that show - the audience sometimes has to vote on news questions in green, red or blue. In the studio they had a voting system but in the zoom edition it's a 100 people holding up pillows, post-its, rubix cubes, etc. The laughter adds a lot of atmosphere.

But as a Bugle listener: John Oliver is pretty good at podcasts, in his show I don't miss the audience. They sometimes sound a bit hysterical. Calm down!
posted by kwartel at 4:06 AM on May 6, 2020 [4 favorites]

At MST Club we've taken, whenever possible, to watching episodes "as broadcast," with the original commercials on Comedy Central/Sci-Fi Channel, and one of the ads shows was for the old late-night show Night After Night with Alan Havey, which had as one of its gimmicks their "Audience of One," a single person who would react to his delivery and material. I wonder if that approach would work now?

(Havey and sidekick Nick Bakay were also two-thirds of ahead-of-its-time sport program parody show Sports Monster, also on early CTV/Comedy Central.)
posted by JHarris at 4:51 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

SNL did canned laughter for Weekend Update in its first SNL At Home special. It didn't work well (which was part of the meta-joke), and they abandoned it for the second one.
posted by Etrigan at 6:55 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

BTW, I was pleased to see Last Week Tonight do a shout-out to the new Animal Crossing, which all kinds of people I've seen on Twitter are playing, even non-gaming friends who I didn't know owned Switches.
posted by JHarris at 7:01 AM on May 6, 2020

The challenge of the "Zoom call audience" is similar to the challenge of live performances using multiway video chat - timing. You've never felt more uncomfortable than trying to time your live joke around laughter on a slight but unpredictable delay - both to receive your audio then you to hear their reaction can add up to over half a second when *everything is working right*.

It's enough to really throw off both the performer and the audience, who then perceives the performer's reaction to their laughter another quarter second late and so on. Watching this in live tests is unsettling, it's like brains short circuiting and everybody just quiesces into befuddled and slightly hostile silence. (Videoconferencing research is fascinating work.)
posted by abulafa at 2:11 PM on May 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

« Older The X-Files: Hell Money...   |  Leverage: The Zanzibar Marketp... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments