Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Lukashenko, Dictator of Belarus
September 13, 2021 1:49 AM - Season 8, Episode 23 - Subscribe

Last Week Tonight is back, in a studio, and with a live audience and a new set! This week... Texas's awful new abortion law that lets private citizens sue people who got or in any way abetted an abortion, including the people who drove the patient to the hospital. And Now: Yet Again, It's That Time Of Year (Starbucks is bringing back their Pumpkin Spice Latte). Main Story (YouTube, 19 minutes): Belarus, specifically its leader Alexander Lukashenko, the self-proclaimed "last dictator of Europe," who has clung to power for three decades. He's the most popular president Belarus has ever had, but only because he's the only president Belarus has ever had, and is in fact deeply unpopular and controls that nation's media with an iron fist.

The teddy bears Last Week Tonight made to mock Lukashenko are available for purchase at The show has partnered with GlobalGiving to give 100% of sales to organizations fighting for the freedom of the press and human rights for the people of Belarus.

Isn't it interesting that you can often tell how terrible a leader is by how badly they botched their Coronavirus reponse? It's not 100% (look at China), but, frequent. And on Lukashenko subverting his nation's electoral processes to stay in power and intimidating the media into not opposing him, isn't it fun to think that's what Trump tried to become?

The Void, the charismatic white expanse voiced by H. Jon Benjamin, has joined the lineup of things and people pictured in the show opening, with the caption F.8 Veni, Vidi, Void.

The episode ended with a card that read "IN LOVING MEMORY AMANDA BAYARD," a former segment producer on the show who died on September 1 in South Carolina.

F.37: "Gratiar Omar," MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS
posted by JHarris (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Already sold out of bears!
posted by chimpsonfilm at 8:35 AM on September 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed seeing this episode open back in the studio, with John excitedly drumming his hands against his desk as he always has and the audience cheering. That white void was so... sad... the fun animated effect notwithstanding.
posted by orange swan at 10:43 AM on September 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

Season 1 ?
posted by Pendragon at 2:27 PM on September 13, 2021

My wife tried to buy a bear, but alas. At least we were able to buy into JohnnyCare a few months ago!
posted by Servo5678 at 5:01 PM on September 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

"I am a meat popsicle."

Glad John's back, and that he's feeding from a live audience.

Yeah, this Belarussian (literally 'White Russian') thing really definitely needs some more info dissemination. From my second hand knowledge, even worse than what LWT makes it out to be (!). Essentially Putin's epitome of "useful idiot" and fall-guy to draw attention away from much more sophisticated political callousness.

I wouldn't be surprised if this was like a Saddam Hussein body-double who ended up being the "real thing" a la 'Arrested Development.' Yeah, this statement is hyperbole.

Interesting that Oliver's wardrobe looks like it has has pulled back a few thousand dollars per suit.

10,000 units of the bear. Sold out immediately. Wow.
posted by porpoise at 11:28 PM on September 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Great to see this show back at full throttle. The surge of energy from having a live audience again lifted this episode enormously. You could see its effect in John's performance too. We're back, baby!
posted by Paul Slade at 5:24 AM on September 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

My heart broke for Pumpkin Spice Man. We were so happy to hear his anguished cries, and then Budweiser broke him.
posted by ceejaytee at 6:31 AM on September 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Wow, out of bears?!

I don't know how John Oliver gets all the money for these things, but I love it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:12 PM on September 14, 2021

I guess the show's core production costs must by pretty low - just John talking at a desk - so that leaves a good chunk of cash available for the various stunts. As long as the viewing figures hold up and/or the awards keep coming, Business Daddy is willing to go along. That seems like the most probable explanation to me, anyway.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:20 PM on September 14, 2021

Agreed with everyone above that it was great to see John's renewed energy at being back in the studio.

The screaming armadillo is a perfect reaction shot for many of LWT's stories - maybe the next stunt can be a screaming armadillo plush? Little squeaky pad in his paw. Raise money for abortion funds.
posted by the primroses were over at 3:59 AM on September 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

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