When his writers returned to work after a five-month strike, John Oliver had 22 weeks of news to cover in his first episode as host Last week tonight on HBO, and one story in particular seemed to stand out: Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert’s lewd antics at a touring production of “Beetlejuice: The Musical.”
Not that Oliver didn’t try to talk about something serious – like budget pressures in Italy – although he just used it as a comedic distraction to keep his focus on Boebert instead.
“There was some caressing and light hands over the pants that were caught on video,” Oliver noted.
“It was a hot production of ‘Beetlejuice: The Musical.'” I just want you to know that. I’m not saying it’s appropriate to engage in high school freshman-era hand stuff during the production of a musical. I just want to make it clear that this was not one of the more sexually explicit films like Spring Awakening, Rocky Horror or Cats. That was “Beetlejuice.” A show that is pretty loud about death. I’m just saying, if your nipples are getting pinched and your pipes are squeaking, save that shit for “Fiddler.” [On The Roof]’ like a damn adult.
He couldn’t help but notice that Boebert and her date were kicked out after the break about five minutes into the second act.
“If you’re not familiar with the show, let’s quickly move on to ‘That Beautiful Sound,’ a song in which Beetlejuice and Lydia gleefully torment a series of visitors, including a Girl Scout, a pizza delivery man 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 endure? No,” Oliver said, referring to a clip he opened the show with of Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) reading adult comments during a public committee hearing.
Oliver also couldn’t resist making fun of Boebert for saying, “Do you know who I am?” as she was escorted out of the theater, calling it a “catastrophically bad” decision.
“If you were caught again for sexual activity during ‘Beetlejuice: The Musical,’ you would hope no one knows who you are. And the last thing you want to do is get on the phone with the mayor right away and tell him what just happened.”
Oliver tried to address the other things that had baffled him since his last TV show on April 30 – including the Supreme Court’s rejection of affirmative action, Donald Trump’s mugshot and multiple indictments, and a new bribery scandal involving Rep. Robert Menendez ( D- NJ) was caught googling how much a kilo of gold weighed. “Yeah, not great, Bob!” Oliver joked.
Oliver also listed a number of things he wanted to joke about, including Mike Lindell’s tantrum over a lawyer’s offhand comment on testimony about “lumpy pillows,” the coronation of King Charles, elections in Turkey, a brief possible Russian coup , followed by “The “Most Predictable” death of the coup leader, a bear in a Chinese zoo that may or may not have been a real bear, “Barbenheimer” and the Sound of freedom.
Also in the spotlight: a Boston police officer’s misadventure on a playground slide (which, in Oliver’s opinion, makes “the best use” of Phil Collins’ epic drum fill in “In The Air Tonight” ever), the Titan’s diving implosion, a police raid a newspaper in Kansas, the fires on Maui and more.
“We missed so much that it would take a whole new version of Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire,'” which also gave Oliver the opportunity to mock Fall Out Boy for doing just that this year , and focused on a set of texts including 9/11, followed by the question “What else do I have to say?” to which Oliver replied:
“Nothing, Fall Out Boy. Nobody forces you to do it!”
He pointed to a clip from Billy Joel’s concert and admitted that this song was the worst tune he had ever written.
“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 from working this summer, he praised the WGA for its strike and fortitude. “But a lot of people had to make huge sacrifices to get this done,” he said, adding: “While I’m very proud of what our union has achieved, I’m also angry that the studios took 148 days to do this A deal they could have offered on day one. But we hope this can encourage others, from autoworkers to Starbucks baristas to health care providers – whether they are in unions or would like to be – to find the power in each other.”
Oliver also expressed his hope that SAG-AFTRA and IATSE can reach an equal agreement with the studios on behalf of the actors and crews who work behind the scenes.
“The truth is that it takes a lot of people who work really hard to make film and television, and they all deserve a piece of the pie.”