Television

LAST WEEK TONIGHT

John Oliver on Boston: ‘They only just got unracist yesterday’

John Oliver during a previous episode of “Last Week Tonight” on HBO.

Eric Liebowitz/HBO via AP, File

John Oliver during a previous episode of “Last Week Tonight” on HBO.

John Oliver continued his attacks on President Trump and his administration on Sunday night, applauding the departure of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon while condemning the president for his remarks on Charlottesville on Tuesday.

The host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” opened his show by mentioning Bannon had been pushed out — to the cheers and applause of his audience.

Advertisement

Bannon “leaves behind a legacy defined by quasi-constitutional xenophobia, unfulfilled campaign promises, and a definitive answer to to the question, ‘What would happen if Martin Sheen ate nothing but sea salt for 1,000 years?’” Oliver said.

Although Oliver seemed happy to see Bannon out of the White House, the comedian wasn’t completely satisfied.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“The truly depressing thing about Bannon’s departure is just how utterly unsatisfying it actually is,” Oliver said. “Yes, one panderer to white nationalists has left the White House. The problem is, the one he was working for is still very much there.”

Oliver then continued his attack on Trump’s comments over Charlottesville -- he had criticized the president last week over Trump’s initial remarks on the violence — this time focusing on the statement the president delivered on Tuesday, in which he said, “There were very fine people on both sides.”

“No, no, they weren’t,” Oliver interjected emphatically. “If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you’d have to say, ‘OK, I guess Malala sucks now. I mean, I’m confused, I don’t know why she’s there, but Malala definitely sucks.’ That’s the only conclusion you can draw.”

Advertisement

Oliver also had a message for Melissa Francis, a Fox News journalist who broke down in tears last week while defending Trump’s statements, where she lamented, “There is nothing any of us can say right now without being judged.”

“Here’s a tip,” Oliver said after showing a clip of Francis’s breakdown. “If you’re getting emotionally overwhelmed and feeling judged for defending Trump in his ‘Nazi sympathizer’ phase — stop [expletive] doing it,” he said forcefully, to cheers from the audience. “It’s that simple. No one is making you do it.

“Also, and I cannot stress this enough — how did you manage to make this about you? That’s almost impressive.”

Oliver also pointed out the radio silence from most congressional Republicans after Trump made his controversial remarks.

“The fact is, after the president of the United States implied that good people were marching with Nazis, the overwhelming majority of Republicans opted not to condemn him,” Oliver said.

At one point, Oliver compared Trump to Lord Voldemort, a villain in the “Harry Potter” series who was so feared, many would not say his name aloud.

“He is not Voldemort,” Oliver said of Trump. “He is just a terrifying entity who viciously attacks his enemies and judges people based on their birthright -- you know what, I do hear it now, I take that back,” Oliver quipped. “In the words of the poets Beyonce and the other ones: ‘Say his name, say his name.’”

And while the late-night host did seem content that several controversial top aides have been booted from the White House, he said America isn’t out of the woods yet.

“This week has been repeatedly called a turning point,” he said. “As much as I would love to believe that, I really don’t see it. Because every day has felt like a turning point. We’re not so much turning anymore as spinning.”

Oliver then compared the political mood to being “on a carousel that will not stop.”

“We’ve vomited so much there’s nothing left to throw up, and there’s just no way to get off, because an unstable, race-baiting carnie is operating the controls,” Oliver said, showing a comical photo of Trump. “And we are probably going to go through a lot more before Republicans ever decide to do anything.”

Later on in the show, Oliver also mentioned the crowds that flocked to Boston on Saturday to protest against a controversial “free speech” rally.

As Oliver was talking about the dangers of nuclear waste during his main segment, he called attention to temporary storage sites in the Northeast, cutting to a documentary clip that showed the damage that could be done to cities if an accident occurred.

“New York, Hartford, Boston — and that last one is a real shame, because as I understand it, they only just got unracist yesterday,” Oliver said, cutting to a photo from Saturday’s protests.

“So, at least they could get to enjoy their new life,” Oliver said.

Watch: John Oliver’s comment on Boston

Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.