Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The IRS
April 13, 2015 9:57 PM - Season 2, Episode 9 - Subscribe

This week: Hillary Clinton announces her candidacy for President of the United States. Brits prepare for upcoming electoral fights, including a heated race for Prime Minister between current PM David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Milliband. Obama meets Raúl Castro to work towards normalizing relations with Cuba. And Now: Excruciatingly Awkward Silences Caused By Technical Difficulties. Main story: The loathed IRS (YouTube 18m), the difficulty of their thankless job, and the issues an unpopular but essential agency faces when their budged gets slashed year after year. Michael Bolton sings a song in support; the word anus is used more than once.
posted by JHarris (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I thought this was the weakest of his shows thusfar.

The IRS piece wasn't that informative; lacked in the investigative punch of all his other pieces. Michael Bolton's utterly awkward song was somewhat fun, but didn't overcome the general weakness of the episode.

I guess you can't hit them all out of the ballpark.
posted by el io at 11:20 PM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Agreed re: weakest.

Which is a shame, really, because the show probably got a huge ratings boost this week from its lead-ins, and all those new viewers are going to think this is how it is.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:47 AM on April 14, 2015

My only complaint was that last ten minutes draaaaaaged.
posted by The Whelk at 8:47 AM on April 14, 2015

He also seems to have softballed an obvious point -- I mean, he can see that Republicans attack the IRS by cutting spending when a modest increase in investment would greatly increase government revenue "with no new taxes" (emphasis on the word new) -- but he seems to think they attack it because it's a government agency, when it seems far more likely that they attack it because they see (correctly) that crippling it will cripple the entire federal government as a thing.

I know, he's already made this point several times, as has John Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but in this particular instance there was a potential slam-dunk that he just sort of lazily bounced in.
posted by Mogur at 9:04 AM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

I also found it pretty weak and boring. Also, I don't hate the IRS, as such. Shitty tax laws on the other hand. Oliver trying to sing with Bolton at the end was amusing. Oliver was only missing a lighter. However, I did hear actually hear someone IRL mention this episode and how they liked it. It may have been the first time they saw the show since they couldn't remember his name. I wouldn't think this person fits Oliver's demo so . . . progress?
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 9:53 AM on April 14, 2015

If Wikipedia's numbers are accurate, it was their highest rated episode with 1.32 million viewers which is almost double anything else this season. For comparison, their uploaded Snowden clip has 5.3 million views.
posted by Gary at 10:35 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Given the number of publications seeking tax related content this week and the loose "Somebody said this..." reporting standard that seems to be the norm now, this was a pretty good way to get the message out about the gutting of the IRS.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:28 AM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think this is the only time I've ever in my life sat through a Michael Bolton song.

I really disliked that 'awkward silences due to tech difficulties' filler. I know the studio audience chuckled, but I thought it was just crap.
posted by Catblack at 1:26 PM on April 14, 2015

This is the first episode of either series I haven't liked. The "awkward silences" bit was just ... well ... silences. The Bolton song went on forever. This could have been an episode of Daily Show length without any loss of content or funny material.

Could do better; has done (a lot) better.
posted by Wordshore at 5:47 AM on April 15, 2015

...having said that, in fairness, the piece on the UK General Election was good. Hopefully it should provide much more material for this particular topic over the next month.
posted by Wordshore at 6:06 AM on April 15, 2015

I like John Oliver when he is investigative and indignant on the behalf of others. I dislike him when he is into childish body jokes and softball lame-ness like "everyone hates the IRS". I hope he goes back to fewer penis/anus jokes and more interesting work like the Miss America scholarship story.
posted by dame at 12:17 PM on April 15, 2015

They got a Peabody!
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 5:44 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

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