2. John Oliver
If I was in charge of Time magazine then John Oliver would hands down have my vote for Person of the Year. In his two seasons at HBO, Oliver, has brought about more change and social awareness then most politicians can throughout all their tenure. The platform that he has created, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, has not just become a comedy news show, it has become socially important.
Allow me to start with this, I was never a religious viewer of the Daily Show (*gasp* “He’s a heathen”, “Burn him alive”, “He’s a witch”), that’s not to say that I never watched John Stewart because I did quite frequently. But if I missed the show during a few stretches I didn’t feel my life was spinning out of order (“Boo this man”), plus I always felt Colbert spoke more to me (“Let him speak!”). Of course I was introduced to John Oliver through the Daily Show and enjoyed his interactions with Stewart as well as his delivery. I later got a better understanding of John Oliver through his work in Community, and grew to love his quirky, dry sense of humor. When I heard that he would be leaving the Daily Show to start something of his own on HBO, I would say that my interest levels were spiked in the interested column.
When Last Week Tonight started I instantly found it to be the perfect “fake” news platform for me.
- Commitment- One day a week. Sweet.
- Comedy: It’s on HBO and he can swear
- News Presented: Holy shit, what?! What?!
Right off the bat Oliver started presenting his viewers with stories that weren’t the focus of main stream media, but in a lot of cases should’ve been. The one day a week platform allowed Oliver to really center in on important stories that weren’t getting air time else where, and he really picked some amazing subjects. Things that just stuck with you, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
It was little surprise that Last Week Tonight became a hit. Even though Colbert and Stewart were still on the air, Oliver’s take on the news was refreshing. Not saying that Stewart and Colbert were over exposed but doing a news show four days a week can get a little repetitive in subject matter. Stories tend to carry over from one day to the next. Oliver did not have this problem though. Through HBO he had full reign to choose his stories and present them as he wanted. With season one being a home run, needless to say the bar for season two was really, really high. And much like Janice from accounting, John Oliver didn’t give a fuck.
Season two of Last Week Tonight saw Oliver take on the Marlboro Man and replace with Jeff the Diseased Lung in a Cowboy Hat (an image that pops up when you type Marlboro on Google), transgender rights in a piece that was quite eye opening and heart breaking, and at some point there were duets with Kenny G and Michael Bolton (not at the same time). More importantly Oliver’s reporting on FIFA helped pave the way to numerous arrests and the retiring of the corrupt soccer president, and he also helped create an updated sex education video for high students that is totally worth your time on YouTube.
Oliver seemed to be every where and actually bringing about change and awareness to so many different subjects. Social media frequently blew up after his show aired Sunday nights, and Oliver was getting people to talk about the news. Through his presentation of humor, outrage, concern, intelligence, fear, anger, and general enthusiasm in what he was reporting Oliver was changing the face of what a comedy news show should be.
For me there were two specific stories that stuck. The first being the tremendous interview of Eric Snowden during a Government Surveillance piece. If anyone has ever wondered how much the government is listening to you than allow me to say this is an eye opener. Through interviewing Snowden, Oliver, breaks down different agencies of government and whether or not they can see… you know what. Take the half hour and watch it.
Wow right?! I mean… wow.
The second stand out for me was his take on televangelists and how their churches are neglected by IRS audits. I can honestly say that this story made me, at times, physically angry. The social irresponsibility of these so called voices of God was appalling. Having lost my father to cancer, I couldn’t believe the audacity of these people as they implored their followers to send money instead of seeking treatment. WTF is that?! These televangelists prayed on the beliefs of these people, and used it to make money. As Oliver goes through his experience with a specific televangelists I couldn’t help but feel outraged at how awful all this was, and then Oliver flips the script. He openly dares the IRS to audit him by opening his own church! Yes you read that correctly. A church that stayed open for three weeks and raised seventy thousand actual dollars, money that was later donated to Doctors Without Borders. I can’t remember a news program with balls this big, fake or otherwise. Oliver took his outrage and anger and did something about it. Please, I can’t ask you to watch this enough.
For me John Oliver won 2015, and it wasn’t even close. My recommendation to all of you is to keep up with the stories he’s reporting. “But Kevin I don’t have HBO.” That’s okay concerned citizen because he has a YouTube channel that you can watch all the segments on. Yes the swear words are bleeped out, but you’ll still get the general idea. Do yourself a favor and let Oliver introduce you to things you didn’t even know were important. You’ll thank me for it later. And in case you needed any more reason to watch Last Week Tonight, they’re making a John Oliver pop vinyl. I mean, come on!