John Oliver had a lot of news to catch up on in Sunday’s Last Week Tonight — five months, in fact.
During the first 15 minutes or so of his first show back since the Writers Guild of America strike ended, he blazed through the biggest news stories that happened during the 148-day strike.
“I’d have loved to have covered all of these stories back when they originally happened,” he said after recapping the news. ” I wish so much I could have told you these jokes at the time, but I couldn’t because our writers, the people who wrote those jokes, were forced to strike for a fair contract for the last five months. And it was an immensely difficult time, not just for them but for everyone else working on this show and many others who could no longer do their jobs. And to be clear, this strike happened for good reasons. Our industry has seen its work severely squeezed in recent years. You’ve probably seen stories about writers and actors whose work you may even recognize, routinely not making enough to qualify for health insurance or afford basic needs.”
He continued: “So the Writers Guild went on strike and thankfully won, but it took a lot of sacrifices from a lot of people to achieve that. And while I’m happy that they eventually got a fair deal and immensely proud of what our union accomplished, I’m also furious that it took the studios 148 days to achieve a deal that they could have offered on day fucking one. But hopefully, this might encourage others, from auto workers to Starbucks baristas to health care providers, whether they are in unions or would like to be, to find power in each other. And within our particular industry.”
He said he hopes that SAG-AFTRA and IATSE are able to “take what the writers achieved and leverage it to win fair contracts for themselves too.”
“Because the truth is, it takes many people working really hard to make film and TV, all of whom deserve a piece of the pie and for the actors in particular, they cannot come back to work soon enough,” he added.
Oliver’s comments came after he gave his take on several news events, including:
— Former President Donald Trump’s mugshot, “in which he looks like he’s struggling to find Waldo in a crowd.”
— The coronation of King Charles, “the world’s oldest boy,” Oliver quipped. Pointing to Charles’ official coronation portrait, Oliver joked that he was “aiming for successful pimp but ends up looking like someone wearing a set of tacky drapes over a Lakers jersey.”
— The video of a policeman taking a very bumpy ride down a park slide that went viral. “It almost hurts to watch. A police officer is taking a quick break heading down a popular slide. Ouch. It’s like he shot out of a cave.… He does hit the ground hard and it’s absolutely incredible from the sound of him thundering down the slide to all his cop toys flying all over the place in his cinema at its finest,” Oliver joked. “It’s not the first and it won’t be the last time that I say this, but I wish cops turned on their body cams more because I’d love to have seen that from inside the slide as well.”
— The odd phenomenon that happened when Reddit unveiled a new policy to charge third-party apps for accessing its data that prompted members to protest by flooding forums with photos of Oliver. “For weeks, images of me were used as a form of protest on some of the most popular subreddit,” he said, showing photos of himself as a muppet and another of him made to look like Keanu Reeves’ character John Wick: “This one labeled John Oliver Wick, which is a pretty good way of showing you exactly what it would look like if Professor Snape ever committed armed robbery.”
— Box office hit Sound of Freedom, “the feel-good child sex trafficking hit that we’ve all been waiting for.”
— The Titan submersible tragedy: “That was a weird few days, wasn’t it?”
— Fall Out Boy’s updated cover of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” covering the past 34 years, “which nobody asked for.” “For what it’s worth, ‘We Didn’t Stop the Fire’ is the last song anyone should cover from Billy Joel’s discography,” Oliver said. “Even in its original form, it is the musical equivalent of a child telling you everything he learned to do at school that day. Slow down. But also, I don’t care.”
— U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert being escorted out of a performance of the Beetlejuice musical after allegedly engaging in appropriate behavior including refusing to stop vaping around a pregnant woman and being loud. She was also caught on camera engaging in sexual activity. Said Oliver: “I’m not saying it would be appropriate to engage in high school freshman-era hand stuff during a production of any musical, but I just wanted to be absolutely clear that this wasn’t one of the more explicitly sexual ones like Spring Awakening or Rocky Horror or Cats. This was Beetlejuice. A show that is quite loudly about death. I’m just saying, if you’re gonna get your nipples tweaked and your pipes squeaked, you save that shit for Fiddler [on the Roof] like a goddamn adult.”
‘Last Week Tonight’: John Oliver Says He’s “Furious” at Studios for Prolonging the Writers Strike