With his writers back to work after a five-month strike, John Oliver had 22 weeks of news to cover in his first episode back hosting Last Week Tonight on HBO, and one story in particular seemed to stick out: Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert’s lewd antics while attending a touring production of Beetlejuice: The Musical.
Not that Oliver didn’t try talking about something serious—such as budgetary pressures in Italy—although he merely used that as a comedic misdirection to keep his focus on Boebert instead.
“There was some fondling and light over-the-pants hands stuff which was caught on video,” Oliver noted.
“It was a torrid production of Beetlejuice: The Musical. I just need you to know that. I’m not saying it would be appropriate to engage in high-school freshman-era hand stuff during a production of any musical. I just want to be clear, this wasn’t one of the more sexually explicit ones like Spring Awakening or Rocky Horror or Cats. This was Beetlejuice. A show that’s quite loudly about death. I’m just saying, if you’re gonna get your nipples tweaked and your pipes squeaked, save that shit for Fiddler [On The Roof] like a goddamn adult.”
He couldn’t help himself from noting that Boebert and her date got kicked out about five minutes into act two after the intermission.
“If you don’t know the show, that puts us comfortably into “That Beautiful Sound,” a song where Beetlejuice and Lydia gleefully torture a series of visitors including a Girl Scout, a pizza delivery person, and one of their neighbors,” Oliver explained. “It’s a song about how they like the sound of tortured screams.”
“Is it the least sexy thing a person can sit through? No,” Oliver said, referring back to a clip he opened the show with, during which Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) read X-rated comments aloud during a public committee hearing.
Oliver also couldn’t help but mock Boebert for declaring, “Do you know who I am?” as she was escorted out of the theater, calling it a “catastrophically bad” decision.
“If you’ve been caught for, again, sexual activity during Beetlejuice: The Musical, you would hope no one knew who you were. And you definitely wouldn’t want to immediately get on the phone with the mayor to tell him what had just happened.”
Oliver tried to get to as much of the other things that amazed him since his previous telecast on April 30—including the Supreme Court rejecting affirmative action, Donald Trump’s mugshot and multiple indictments, and a new bribery scandal wherein Rep. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was caught Googling how much one kilo of gold weighed. “Yeah, not great, Bob!” Oliver quipped.
Oliver also listed a host of things he wanted to joke about, including Mike Lindell’s tantrum over a deposition lawyer’s offhand comment about “lumpy pillows,” the coronation of King Charles, elections in Turkey, a brief would-be Russian coup followed by “the most predictable” death for the coup’s leader, a bear at a Chinese zoo that may or may not have been a real bear, “Barbenheimer” and the Sound of Freedom.
Also making the cut: a Boston police officer’s mishap on a playground slide (offering “the all-time best use of” Phil Collins’ epic drum fill on “In The Air Tonight,” in Oliver’s opinion), the Titan submersible implosion, a police raid at a Kansas newspaper, the Maui fires, and more.
“We missed so much, it’d take a whole new version of Billy Joel’s 'We Didn’t Start The Fire,’” which also gave Oliver a chance to mock Fall Out Boy for doing just that this year, zeroing in on a set of lyrics including 9/11 followed by the question “What else do I have to say?” To which Oliver replied:
“Nothing, Fall Out Boy. Nobody’s making you do this!”
He pointed to a clip of Billy Joel in concert admitting that that song was the worst melody he ever wrote.
“Listen to Billy Joel, Fall Out Boy,” Oliver said. “He makes a very good point.”
As for the strike that kept Oliver and his writers out of work this summer, he praised the WGA for striking and holding firm. “But it took a lot of sacrifices from a lot of people to achieve that,” he said, adding that while “I’m immensely proud of what our union accomplished, I’m also furious that it took the studios 148 days to achieve a deal which they could’ve offered on day fucking one. But hopefully, this may encourage others, from auto workers to Starbucks baristas to health-care providers—whether they are in unions or would like to be—to find power in each other.”
Oliver also expressed his hope that SAG-AFTRA and IATSE can come to equitable terms with the studios on behalf of the actors and the crews who work behind the scenes.
“The truth is it takes many people working really hard to make film and TV, all of whom deserve a piece of the pie.”