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"Fuck you, Bernie!"—John Oliver is crowned king of The Late Show guests

John Oliver, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show

Monday’s Late Show saw Stephen Colbert welcoming former Daily Show pal, fellow late-night host, and frequent Late Show guest John Oliver. How frequent? Well, perhaps this sash, tiara, and brimming bouquet of red roses will clue you in, as Colbert surprised Oliver with the news that the Last Week Tonight host had overtaken Bernie Sanders as The Late Show’s most-booked guest. Oliver was a picture of genteel, British, Emmy-winner’s grace in victory, naturally, booming out a hearty “Fuck you, Bernie!,” and doing a little flourish of “Number one!” gestures.

And, sure, Oliver was technically there to remind people that his weekly rundown of laugh-’til-you-cry political comedy, Last Week Tonight, comes back this coming Sunday. He and Colbert previewed the looming (March 29) Brexit deadline, which, Oliver noted, is looking akin to someone jumping out of an airplane without a parachute while someone asks, “What does this mean?” “I guess it means a massive exercise in confidence,” Oliver joked, although he was more sober about the potential consequences of the likely “no deal” Brexit, telling Colbert, “We’re talking about generational damage that could end up being done here.”

And since Oliver was being Mr. Cheer, he and Colbert also commiserated over the fact that neither of them share much optimism on the home front, either, when it comes to the possibility of an early, “no plea deal” exit of Donald Trump from the White House. Oliver got booed by the audience when he suggested that people might have to strap themselves and their civil rights in for the long haul of Trump’s entire first term—and possibly beyond. Oliver took meager solace in the simple fact that the Donald Trump administration necessarily has to end at some point, comparing it to the far-off finish line of a marathon which the country will eventually “stumble over, be covered in a silver cape, and have someone say, ‘You really shouldn’t have done that.’” At least Oliver has his celebratory vestments for having won The Late Show interview marathon, although he and Colbert finally had to confront the fact that the bit had nowhere to go. As the cellophane bouquet wrap crinkled on Oliver’s label mic, and the interview petered out, Oliver told his host, that, at least, “Both of you and I are happy in this kind of disappointed awkwardness.”


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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.