Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Afghanistan
August 25, 2021 1:27 AM - Season 8, Episode 22 - Subscribe

Farewell to the white void! It's the last episode from the blank existential nothingness voiced by H. Jon Benjamin. This week... we begin going right into the main story (24 minutes), about the withdrawal, after twenty years, from Afghanistan, a process that began under Trump, continued under Biden, and arguably had to happen someday, but we had hoped would be done in a more orderly and less violent and chaotic way than it has. And Now: Tamron Hall Will Have You Know She Is Fifty. Then, a word about the legal battle between our old friend, Jim "Texas Hammer" Adler, and newcomer to the tool-wielding, television-advertised personal injury law scene, Mike "Alabama Hammer" Slocumb, who looks like he may have stolen some of Jim's shtick. John suggests a new nickname for Slocumb: "The Alabama Banana Slicer," complete with prop that he will happily send on request. And, at last, another, final, moment with the void.... Last Week Tonight is off for the next two weeks.

The last interchange with the white void:

Void: "Th-that-that's it?"
John: "Yep!"
Void: "You're ending it?"
John: "Yep. Yep, that's it. This is where you and I say goodbye!"
Void: "You know it is--it is our last night together. Right?"
John: "Right!"
Void: "So, you didn't plan anything?"
John: "Uh..."
Void (instantly growing a shock of red hair): "Conan got a song, remember? Jack Black sang a big song."
John: "You think you're the Conan in this dynamic?"
Void: "I just thought you'd prepare something, yeah. But you're doing it your way. Okay, bye!"
John: "All right, you're sure?"
Void: "I said I'm fine. We're done, goodbye. And definitely no song."
John: "Okay, well, thanks for everything! Well, I'll see you around." (walks off camera) "Bye!"
Void: (comes back, singing) "There's a grief that can't be spoken. There's a pain, goes on and on. Empty chairs at empty tables, now my friends are dead and gone..."
John (still off camera): "I'm not dead! I'm returning to a studio."
Void: "Oh all my friends, my FRIIIIIENDS don't ask me..."
John: "Jesus Christ!"
Void: (holding in an invisible hand a flag reading FUCK YOU JOHN) "...what your sacrifice was for!"
John: "This is a lot!"
Void: "Empty chairs at empty tables, where my friends will sing no mooore... Queen Elizabeth had Princess Diana murdered, good night!"
John: "No no no no no no no no no no no!!" (runs back, knocking over lights and microphone)

F. 37: "Postus Hostus," MIKE RICHARDS
posted by JHarris (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I found myself hoping Slocumb would turn out to be the original and Adler the copyist. "Alabama Hammer" has such a pleasing ring to it.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:28 AM on August 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

I thought the Afghanistan segment was John and his team at their absolute best. It was scorching, and taught me a whole bunch of things about the situation that I had previously missed.

Also, describing Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham as "tag-team racial panic-goblins" was‍ perfect.
posted by simonw at 9:32 AM on August 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

News! Last Week Tonight's Gallery Masterpiece Tour is on! Here's the annoucement on YouTube, and here's the website:
posted by JHarris at 3:01 PM on August 26, 2021

I grew up fast forwarding through the 2-per-ad-break ads for JIM ADLER, THE TOUGH, SMART LAWYER on Houston's UPN affiliate. He loved that 0100-0300 slot which was when I set my VCR to record Deep Space Nine/Voyager.

I'll never forget my confusion at finding out he changed to 'The Texas Hammer'. "But... but how could he do that? Just ... change his name?"

Not sure I'm over it yet, haha.
posted by Seeba at 1:21 PM on August 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I admit to wondering who would win a copyright lawsuit over a nickname and series of commmercials. Fair use is always a rat's nest, but is there really any chance of confusion? Is anyone who was planning to sue in Texas going to turn around and say, "hold on, I like the Alabama version of this moniker better" and switch? Is the storyboard of a commercial even copyrightable? That's getting pretty close to the line of abstract ideas, which aren't subject to copyright, versus a specific expression of them, which is. Seems like there's only so many ways to film "Truck gets stopped by lawyer with hammer". Fun commercials, though.

I didn't like the Afghanistan segment that much, because it left out the incredible distorting effect of money on individual Afghans, not just the corrupt businesses and government. E.g., there were offers to turn in "terrorists" for a million US dollars. Can you imagine how destabilizing that would be? If you offered my mom more money than she'll make in a lifetime to turn me in, I would tell her to take the deal!
posted by wnissen at 3:53 PM on September 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

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