by Joe Clancy ‘18
Four years ago, HBO teamed up with former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver to launch the massively successful satirical show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
For a brief period in the summer of 2013, British comedian Oliver took over as host of The Daily Show, when Jon Stewart was off filming his movie Rosewater. This opportunity gave Oliver the attention of a massive audience as he showed off his ability to brilliantly humorize the news.
Throughout Last Week Tonight’s run there have been countless episodes in which Oliver has used satire. His style has made him famous as he covers issues not generally discussed in the 24 hour news networks.
For instance, Oliver made a surprise visit to Russia to interview Edward Snowden about National Security Agency spying. The comedic focus of the interview was an example of a certain type of explicit picture, but the interview also offered some informative points.
Oliver has also delivered several hilarious rants about the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), Net Neutrality, and, of course, Donald Drumpf (Trump).
This June, Oliver decided to tackle President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement and scale back on Obama-era regulations on coal. Originally, Trump and his administration were supposed to be the main target of the segment.
However, this all changed when Bob Murray sent Last Week Tonight a cease and desist order before the show even aired. Murray is the CEO of Murray Energy and told Last Week Tonight that if Oliver spoke ill of him or his company, they would sue.
Nevertheless, Oliver did not back down and hilariously roasted Bob Murray. As promised, Oliver started the rant about Trump and then moved on to Murray, saying, “I really did not want to spend so much time talking about you but you gave me no choice, Bob.”
Oliver then went into detail about some of the black eyes the company has had. For starters, Oliver covered a mine collapse in 2007, which led to the death of several employees due to unsafe working conditions that Murray Energy neglected to fix.
Oliver also went on to talk about the bonuses the company gave out one year that were comically small amounts. There was also the comparison of Murray to Dr. Evil, and the kicker of the rant was the introduction of the life size squirrel.
The squirrel, Mr. Nutterbutter, was a joke about an alleged experience Murray had as a young man with a talking squirrel. The show concluded with Mr. Nutterbutter presenting Murray with an actual bonus check of three dollars, with the written memo saying, “eat [expletive] Bob!”
Murray kept his promise and is currently suing Oliver and Last Week Tonight for defamation. Oliver has the backing of both HBO and Time Warner, but he also picked up a key ally earlier this month, West Virginia’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU says that they support Mr. Oliver’s exercise of the First Amendment.
This case could turn out to be a devastating loss both financially and for the reputation of Murray if Oliver wins, which seems to be the most likely case. The case will surely be an unusually humorous court appearance, as Mr. Nutterbutter will be used as evidence.
One thing is for sure, Oliver will keep on dishing out the hilarious punches.