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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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After reminiscing with fond memories, Class of 2024 graduates in Rockefeller Chapel

10 years later, ‘Last Week Tonight’ continues to provide informational, entertaining experience

Ten years and 261 episodes later, many things have changed about “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” the least of which has been John Oliver’s appearance. Despite the change it has undergone, “Last Week Tonight” continues to be an extremely informative show. The show’s Emmy-winning writing is made obvious through its comprehensive deep dives, strategic structure and intricate web of inside jokes.

The camera pans left, the talk show disappears, and in its place is a gigantic puppet of a black-and-white bird with a red crest, 15-foot wings flapping as it caws toward the audience. 

“Let me say this loud and clear once more: Putekeke today, Putekeke tomorrow, Putekeke for the next hundred years!” yells a costume-clad John Oliver. 

In most talk shows, a finale this grand would be insane, but for the Emmy-winning HBO original series “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” it’s just another Sunday night.

Ten years after its debut, “Last Week Tonight” continues to provide a uniquely informational experience that stands out amongst a vast array of late night news shows. “Last Week Tonight,” consists of weekly 40-minute episodes, each one starting by detailing some of the significant worldwide news, before transitioning into an in-depth exploration of a relevant topic.

What makes these explorations so special? It just so happens that by making an utterly informative mockery of world politics within the show’s first 10-15 minutes, “Last Week Tonight” can describe a wide variety of nonpolitical subjects with extreme detail. The show is able to zoom out far beyond the last week and provide a start-to-finish timeline of the topic, strategically focusing back in to immerse the viewer in the story’s key components. 

For example, the April 21 episode describing UFOs didn’t just describe the confirmation of the Pentagon’s investigation toward UFOs but the entire conceptual history of UFOs.This involved making satirical remarks about extraterrestrials, the conflict UFOs caused in scientific communities and the hidden government investigations alike.

Truly, this information would only have a fraction of the impact it leaves were it not for the staff’s Emmy-winning writing with Mr. Oliver’s impeccable comedic timing and witty commentary paving the way for the complex-yet-comprehensive deep dives the show provides.

While the viewer may simply perceive a funny English man with a sharp wit and a sharper tongue, the show’s comedy has a lot more tact than you might think, and it all hinges on inside jokes.

During his initial segments Mr. Oliver isn’t simply getting the weekly news out of the way, he is building an arsenal, a joke arsenal that can be referenced and repurposed throughout the rest of the episode. By the time the episode has reached its end, he has crafted an intricate web of facts and jokes that connects every piece of information and makes every segment, episode and season come full circle. 

Overall, the strategic writing and unique structure of “Last Week Tonight” creates a comedic experience that helps viewers learn about world problems, go beyond politics and educate people about the subjects that will truly benefit them.

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About the Contributor
Abhay Chandran
Abhay Chandran, Reporter
Abhay Chandran is a member of the Class of 2026. He began in journalism as a sophomore in the 2023-24 school year. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Honorable mention, yearbook copy/caption: academics

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    Sorna HasaadMay 23, 2024 at 11:26 am

    The British lost what they started in 1812. I will not hear a word a British person has to say about American politics.