John Oliver’s New HBO Show Punches Hippies, Hipsters, Obamacare (Video)

John Oliver’s new HBO show, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, premiered Sunday on that premium channel that we don’t subscribe to, and here is a clip from it! We are rather inclined to love Mr. Oliver, and here he is in fine form with a rant about Oregon’s completely broken ACA website, which the state finally euthanized last week. As part of the $250 million the state sank into a website that enrolled nobody on the exchange, there was some $3 million for advertisements, some of which were, as Oliver accurately describes them, “violently adorable.”

And then we get the counterpoint ad, which explains “Like artists in Portland, your site doesn’t work / that 404 error is not just a quirk.” It’s pretty funny, and since everybody involved in the show is apparently not from anywhere near the Pacific Northwest, we suppose we can charitably overlook the parody’s pronunciation of the state’s name as “Ora-gawn” — or who knows, maybe that was deliberate, just to annoy Oregonians.

Would it have been nice if the segment had maybe noted that Oregon’s terrible exchange website fail says more about the state’s own mismanagement than about any problem inherent to the ACA itself? Or that while the exchange crashed and burned, Oregon did at least enroll 300,000 people under the Medicaid expansion, and managed to get 70,000 into private plans using paper forms? Sure, but comedy doesn’t do subtlety all that well.

HBO has also posted the full first episode on the show’s YouTube channel so you can decide for yourself just how much it resembles that other fake news show that Oliver very successfully guest hosted last summer. For what it’s worth, we might point out that The Daily Show hasn’t done any reporting on the biggest election ever held in world history — in India, right now — so score a point for Last Week Tonight on that one.


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  • TJ Barke

    I’ll forgive the ore-gone, because he’s British.

  • Arcturus

    Heaven help me… it just wasn’t that funny. Stewart is funnier 4 nights a week. I was looking forward to Oliver’s show… I hope he gets over the first show yips and starts making with the larfs.

    • Annie Towne

      Yeah, he seemed nervous and was a bit strident, but first night jitters are understandable. I was glad he did the India story, in any case.

  • DeSwiss

    If you watch the whole show, it’s better if you mute through the John McCain jokes. McCain was always better with physical humor like facial contortions and crashing planes…… :-/

  • nzmccorm

    I dunno, it just comes off as a more toothless version of Newswipe with way more lackluster presentation and less interesting skits.