Entertainment

John Oliver's 14 Most Blistering 'Last Week Tonight' Rants

Published On 07/08/2016 Published On 07/08/2016
John Oliver
HBO/Oren Aks/Thrillist

In less than three seasons, John Oliver has accomplished a lot on Last Week Tonight -- and that's not just referring to his all-dog Supreme Court. The English expat has created a series that marries some of the most creative insults on television with serious journalism.

And they don't call it "the John Oliver effect" for nothing: here are the HBO star's most savage, surprising, and silly rants to date, most of which even -- gasp! -- inspired his lazy American audiences to action. Keep #soybeanwind alive, people.

HBO/YouTube

Brexit

If John Oliver is worried about the global economy, you should definitely be worried about the global economy. Here he spells out all the disastrous things that are about to happen as a result of Britain's vote to leave the EU -- which he warned everyone about explicitly the week prior -- balancing the fact that "lives hang in the balance" with comparing Boris Johnson to a shaved orangutan with Owen Wilson's hair. Most importantly, he pleads with Americans not to make Britain's mistakes: as Oliver cautions, "There are no fucking do-overs."

HBO/YouTube

Donald Trump

Really, how do you pick a best part? Is it John Oliver's comparison of Trump to a gold Sharpie? ("Something that gives the appearance of wealth, but is actually just a cheap tool.") His constant digs at Trump's hands? ("Cocktail sausage fingers.") No, it's probably his grand reveal of the "Make Donald Drumpf Again" hats -- but good luck finding one of those now.

HBO/YouTube

Prison

Oliver has tackled problems related to the U.S. prison system many times -- there are great tirades on bail, prisoner re-entry, and mandatory minimums. But this early exploration of prison issues offers some true horror stories brilliantly contrasted with a sunny Sesame Street segue. Just don't listen to the crocodile; he's talking about zoos.

HBO/YouTube

Net neutrality

This is still one of Oliver's biggest hits, and it illustrates what he does best: taking a super dry topic and making people care about it. After stating his case for net neutrality, Oliver points his viewers to the FCC website and instructs them to "turn on caps lock and fly, my pretties!" The thousands of subsequent comments crashed the site. And it was all thanks to a rant that included analogies about dingo babysitters.

HBO/YouTube

Sex education

Come for Mike Ehrmantraut's 1974 sex-ed video, stay for the updated version with Laverne Cox and Nick Offerman.

HBO/YouTube

FIFA II

To understand any of this, you first have to watch Oliver's 2014 exposé on FIFA, the governing body behind the World Cup. After the U.S. Department of Justice arrested about a dozen FIFA officials in 2015, he did this follow-up video. Whereas the first edition is clearly coming from a massive soccer fan who's saddened by the corrupt leaders running the show, the second one sees Oliver in gleeful imp mode as he unleashes rapid-fire burns on former FIFA president and "Swiss demon" Sept Blatter.

HBO/YouTube

Miss America

Oliver's team really flexed their research skills for this takedown of Miss America, which claims to be the largest provider of scholarships for women with $45 million in available funds. After thoroughly debunking the claim and hosting a mock beauty pageant with Kathy Griffin, Oliver shouts out smaller women's scholarship funds worthy of donations. You'll also hear early rumblings of his "Drumpf" masterpiece with the cast-off line: "Miss USA, for instance, is owned by Donald Trump, a clown made of mummified foreskin and cotton candy."

HBO/YouTube

Televangelists

For a brief, shining moment, Oliver's Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption was an excellent evisceration of televangelism. Too bad all the semen ruined it.

HBO/YouTube

Ferguson and police militarization

The riots in Ferguson inspired several passionate condemnations of racial profiling and media bias. (Many from Oliver's old boss.) Last Week Tonight approached the issue by discussing America's increasingly weaponized police forces. Oliver builds his case effectively by pointing to outrageous tanks owned by small town sheriff's offices, but his sign-off is the most blistering: "I know the police love their ridiculous, unnecessary equipment, so here's another patronizing test: let's take it all away from them and if they can make it through a whole month without killing a single unarmed black man -- then, and only then, can they get their fucking toys back."

HBO/Youtube

Tobacco

Joe Cool was without an heir for years, until Last Week Tonight introduced Jeff the Diseased Lung. He may be kind of rotten (literally), but he does have a hip cowboy hat.

HBO/YouTube

The border wall

Math doesn't have to be boring. In this lengthy segment, Oliver systematically dismantles Trump's proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, dollar by dollar. Look out for sassy cameos from an old lady playing golf and the former president of Mexico, Vincente Fox.

HBO/YouTube

The NCAA

The fake video game March Sadness, which skewers the NCAA exploitation of student athletes, is fantastic. But let's not forget  #soybeanwind, the most wonderfully nonsensical hashtag Oliver has ever created.

HBO/YouTube

Government surveillance

This is a long one, but it's worth it. Oliver spends 14 minutes cracking jokes about the Patriot Act, NSA, and "un-Cumberbatch-able" Julian Assange before the show cuts to him in the streets of Moscow. There he sits down with Edward Snowden for an interview most political journalists only dream about. But don't worry, he still manages to talk about Hot Pockets.

HBO/YouTube

Online harassment

Oliver gives a brief overview of Twitter threats and revenge porn laws (or lack thereof) in this segment. He's particularly harsh on a pair of pervy news anchors, but really, the entire Internet -- a.k.a. "a dark carnival of humanity's most wretched impulses" -- is subject to his wrath.

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Kristin Hunt is a freelancer writer for Thrillist and a committed follower of Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption. Follow her: @kristin_hunt

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