Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The State of Immigration Reform, Interview with Stephen Hawking
June 16, 2014 5:08 AM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

This week: Tom Wheeler responds to the show's Net Neutrality piece: "I would like to state for the record that I'm not a dingo," Al-Qaeda offshoot ISIS overruns Iraq, Dan Snyder refuses to rename the Washington Redskins (with parody commercial), the sorry state of immigration reform (with necessary revision to An American Tail) and interview with Stephen Hawking, with an extended version on YouTube.
posted by JHarris (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The dingo ate my bandwidth!
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:10 AM on June 16, 2014

The short story Hawking referred to was “Answer,” by Frederic Brown.
posted by Shmuel510 at 8:59 AM on June 16, 2014

The Hawking interview was unexpectedly funny.
posted by Pendragon at 11:05 AM on June 16, 2014

So, here's the rundown:

Tom Wheeler responds, in a press conference, to Last Week Tonight comparing him to a dingo: "I would like to state for the record that I'm not a dingo." John brought up a side-by-side photographic comparison of a dingo and Wheeler. He then demanded that Tom Wheeler bring up official documents proving his non-dingoness.

ISIS (not an Archer reference) overruns Iraq. "You exploited half a country and made $400 million dollars in a week. What are you, a terrorist group or a hedge fund?"

Obama becomes only the fourth sitting President to ever visit a Native American reservation, and more on the Washington Redskins still being named the Redskins, due to pushback from owner Dan Snyder, referred to by Oliver as "Chief He-Who-Runs-Without-Moral-Compass." After showing an emotionally-charged commercial run opposed to the name, Oliver showed his own, featuring other difficult-to-defend positions, among them, "If you want to get laid, become a magician," "Every flight needs more babies," and "If you can't learn to play the recorder, you're fucked."

Top story: Immigration
- Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader who worked with Obama on immigration reform, unseated by Tea Party challenger Dave Brat, who ran strongly opposed to it, causing the media to pronounce the issue dead. 65K Republican voters in Virginia got off their asses to vote and the whole country abandons an important issue. "The system works!"
- A guy explains the costs of entering the country: high end, $9,000; on the cheap, $2,500; on a jetski (really), add another $500-600. Oliver: "To be fair, if you're entering the country on a jetski, you probably belong here."
- Immigration, for some reason, is an issue all over the world. Everyone hates immigrants, and some clips are played of them. Oliver: "That last one (an Englishman) makes me so homesick. That's the music of my youth! I lost my virginity to the sound of a man ranting about Bulgarians." "For some reason, Immigration is the universal crazy-maker, and believe me, I know. I come from England. Hating immigrants is one of our national pastimes! It's like cricket or winning Academy Awards, we're almost weirdly good at it."
- Oliver constructs a "wall of facts" to keep out "undocumented opinions." An example from the Senate Floor, from Alabaman Republican Senator Jeff Sessions: "You're bringing in workers to take jobs from unemployed Americans!" Oliver responds: "That's just a classic. Undocumented workers take American jobs. The problem with that is that it's not true, but it feels like it might be. Like: 'Bears only have sex face to face,' or 'Every vagina starts closed and doctors have to open it,' or, 'The only difference between peanut butter and mustard is the amount of salt.'"
- Michelle Bachmann (UGH) states in a clip that immigration reform is President Obama's number one issue because, "If amnesty goes into effect, we'll never have another Republican President, ever!" Oliver: "So your argument is, we can't let the immigrants in because they'll never vote for us. I might have a solution, I know this sounds crazy, what if you just tried treating them better?" Continuing, "Let me tell you something. I've been through the immigration process under the best possible scenario, and it was still hell."
- The show updates the Don Bluth cartoon "An American Tail" to reflect the modern immigration experience, using cel-shaded computer animation.

And finally, first in a new series, "Great Minds: People Who Think Good," it's an interview with Stephen Hawking. Pretty much an excuse to get Hawking to rag on John Oliver for six minutes. The extended interview might have more hard information, but it's only about a minute longer, so probably not too much.
posted by JHarris at 11:20 AM on June 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've started watching this thanks to FanFare, loved John Oliver from Community and The Daily Show, and this show is hilarious!
posted by ellieBOA at 12:53 PM on June 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you think this show is hilarious, you should listen to the Bugle podcast.
posted by Pendragon at 2:06 PM on June 16, 2014 [6 favorites]

I was not totally convinced by the first show that Oliver was going to transit TDS with a brand of his own, but I really think he has. One thing that constructs this post-TDS identity is the script itself. When you listen carefully to the way he assembles those mini-essays [that you summarise above JHarris] there is a very eloquent and catholic range of allusions, segues, imagery, alliteration and verbal play. And he plays long-form comedy well - assembling a range of philosophic points that round out an argument and a joke. For example, returning to the dingo imagery he started with in a different mini-essay when he comes near the end of the show. I think this is the advantage of a weekly show over a daily show. We are seeing not just comedy but a line of argument that is carefully structured to hew to a particular philosophical attitude. Say, in this 'be reasonable.'

That Oliver could also draw on his outsider status as UK immigrant was important. He constructs both the craziness that English people feel is very American, and the allure of a country like America when one is a child watching so many TV shows that centralise the way of life we imagine you guys are all having. Apple pie, baseball etc. The Actual American Tail cartoon he inserted is so poignant because, as he says, Oliver himself migrated to America and hullo American Dream! - look where he is now!
posted by honey-barbara at 5:54 PM on June 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

Another important question is whether we want the chairman of a major regulatory agency who has such a complete incomprehension of both zoology and metaphor. I mean 99.9% of viewers* got the "dingo babysitter" joke irrespective of whether they knew the animal or the infamous incident it refers to, because they're John Olivier viewers and by definition not entirely stupid. That an FCC chairman is neither would disqualify him even if he weren't already disqualified by virtue of being a fucking top lobbyist for the industry he regulates.

* This figure arrived at by an industry-standard methodology consisting of me deciding what I think the right number probably is, or should be.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:05 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

John Oliver told a great story on the Bugle re: his immigration status.

It was back when he was working on the Daily Show and was on a work visa rather than a green card. As he tells it, he had to renew his Visa annually at the american embassy in London. At one interview the immigration officer said to him "Give me one good reason I should let you back in to insult my country!"

But it then turned out she was joking, but he was too shocked that he couldn't go back to really get it.

Ah, found an actual quote:

"Until 2009, when he finally received his green card, Oliver's sense of outsiderhood in New York was not solely a joke: he was obliged to seek the renewal of his visa every year at the American embassy in London, and lived in fear of being turned down. "The worst experience I had was an immigration officer there, an American lady, saying, 'Give me one good reason I should let you back in to insult my country,'" he recalls. "I felt a pulse of ice go through me. Then she said, 'Oh, I'm just kidding, I love the show.' But I was too stunned to laugh. My life had just flashed in front of my eyes… You realise, if it's this difficult for me – and I have almost all the help and privileges I could have, to help me navigate the system – then clearly the immigration system is broken and barbaric."

When the card arrived, Comedy Central staff brought it to him in the office accompanied by a slice of apple pie, a bottle of Budweiser and an American flag: "And I nearly burst into tears. I don't think I'd processed the fact that I thought about it every single day." He says he has no plans to leave, but the time demands of the job have prevented him emigrating in any more organised way: many of his belongings are still in a storage warehouse in South Norwood."

posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:53 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've always liked him, but now...I'm enamored.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:40 AM on June 17, 2014

Top story this week! In light of John Oliver's focus on his show, his podcast is going on sabbatical until September.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:32 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Aw, that's too bad about the Bugle going on ice, though not so unexpected. I felt pretty great about the double-dose of Oliver (and the not-quite-as-tv-friendly takes on stories that showed up in the podcasts).
posted by kaibutsu at 8:50 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

John was on Fresh Air today discussing the show. He's a very fun interview, as you would expect.
posted by jbickers at 12:04 PM on June 19, 2014

In light of John Oliver's focus on his show, his podcast is going on sabbatical until September.

posted by dialetheia at 7:56 PM on June 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

That Fresh Air interview has a great bit where Terry Gross reminds Oliver that doing this kind of topical satire reduces the number of parties he can go do, and Oliver responds, yeah, but as a comedian that's his job, he's supposed to be an outsider, it's supposed to be uncomfortable when he's in a room with politicians, and seeing journalists cozying up to them should be a red flag. That's awesome.
posted by JHarris at 2:40 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

It looks like there wasn't an episode tonight, so I'll be back in a week for episode 8.
posted by JHarris at 3:05 AM on June 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

John Oliver's really been killing it with this show. I also usually feel myself wishing for more John Oliver and less Andy Zaltzman on the Bugle, so if a Bugle hiatus is the cost for this show I'm pretty okay with it.
posted by Phire at 10:25 AM on June 23, 2014

I might have spoken too soon about episode 8. Will see if I can make a post soon.
posted by JHarris at 10:49 AM on June 23, 2014

« Older Game of Thrones: The Children...   |  Halt and Catch Fire: High Plai... Newer »

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