Review: John Oliver

'Senior British correspondent' explains why America rules

Review: John Oliver

What makes America “America”? Is it how we use the word itself as a synonym for “great"? “Arrogance,” ironically, is one of numerous plausible answers to that question – which actor, comedian, and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart correspondent John Oliver explored at length at Bass Concert Hall on Friday night.

Performing to a packed house on the UT campus in the shadow of the Texas State Capitol, which Oliver termed “one of the most insane buildings in the world,” the famed “Senior British Correspondent” naturally talked about our favorite subject: us.

We love us some us. Why? From Oliver’s unique perspective as a mock-authority on American culture and politics, we have faith everything’s going to work out for us, and defiance against the fact that it probably isn’t. Bubbles burst, and empires aren’t built to last.

Deal with it.

A great many Americans are. Like the presumably hard-working, low-income Austin-Bergstrom Airport security guard who called Mr. Oliver “the British guy from the John Daly Show” upon his arrival. Maybe there’s undue suffering and hardship in this, the most powerful country on Earth, because, to quote a "Daly Show" talking head: “We might be living in the most pathetic time in American political history.” Hard to argue otherwise; and a lot of what’s horribly, relentlessly wrong uses our state’s politics as source material.

“What the fuck is happening here, Texas?” Oliver bellowed, imploring for immediate, coherent answers moments after taking the stage. Hey, we just live here. That might’ve been the question to put to a man Oliver supposedly shared his plane from New York with: Gov. Rick Perry. The boneheaded ideologue who Oliver says New Yorkers savagely mock and Texans recoil from. Still, how many times have we elected him? But more importantly to an Oliver crowd, when will he ever go away?

Sure, Governor, run for president. We really can’t emphasize run enough.

That’s why we’re Austin – the “you can’t make this shit up” political seat of the Lone Star State. We side more with people like Oliver and Jon Stewart than Rick Perry and Ted Cruz; and if that makes us weird, then what’s crazy feel like?

Sadly, there were no mentions of Community or Professor Ian Duncan, the drunken, ribald community college educator from said program. But Oliver’s a comedian, fake-newsman, and political junkie above all else. And there were plenty of cleverly reinforced lessons on this night.

One: We rule. We rule because our leaders have contemplated nuking the goddamn moon, in earnest. But it’s cool because they wanted to scare the Russians. Additionally, we super-mega rule because we’ve had people on jet skis shag batting practice fly balls from an aircraft carrier (yes, this spectacle did include an inflatable batting cage). We think we’re all that and have the jet skis to prove it – America, baby: America.

But what I’ll always remember about my night with John Oliver is this (and remember ye this): that “Democracy is like a tambourine. Not everyone can be trusted with it.”

So, America: In whose hands do we want our tambourine?

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John Oliver, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Bass Concert Hall

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