Last Week Tonight Episode Review: Dear Karl Marx: Religion is not the Only Opiate of the People


john oliver last week tonight review

As it turns out, this piece is not an essay about the least comical of the Marx brothers, but a roundabout way of introducing the main segment of Last Week Tonight’s latest broadcast. As host correctly pointed out, opiates are the opiate of the people, far more than religion, which these days serves more as a hallucinogenic than a pain-killer. For example, it allows its most enthusiastic partakers to imagine that one of the major party candidates is the very model of Christian behavior. But I stray.

As we follow the 2016 elections with varying degrees of dismay, it is easy for us to remember that there are still alarming issues that do not go on hiatus, the way Mr. Oliver and every other working person has every right to do, from time to time. One of the worst of these is the overuse of opiates, both in the form of heroin derivatives and heroin itself. Putting aside the economic and emotional damage this epidemic has caused, it may now be the biggest cause of unnatural death in the nation, even with all the murders in Chicago. And by the way, thugs of Chicago, do you think you could maybe give your next victims a pass, at least until the Cubs finish the World Series?

As Oliver points out, to no surprise really, the biggest culprit in this mess is not the dealers or the addicts (think of the fable of the scorpion and the frog.), but the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture the heroin derivatives, ostensibly for the very reasonable purpose of battling pain. In a way, it must be a welcome break for big pharma to have the spotlight removed away from their inexcusable price-gouging and onto something that does not involve the almighty dollar, such as death dealing.

I thought the host was quite thorough and witty as ever as he examined the situation. There were instances where he and the show’s research staff may have been a bit more thorough. For example, in the area of alternatives to opiates for pain relief, he neglected to mention the use of steroids, which can be very effective. On two occasions, I was able to perform in shows where I could not otherwise have made it through even a single performance, thanks to Cortisone injections. Of course, I did have some regret about having to give back all my medals. But that is but a pick of the nit. On the whole, it was an excellent segment.

As can hardly be avoided these days, there were two short segments about the election, and mostly about the Donald, by which I do not mean the duck. One of them was in regard to his performance in the third debate. It was clever enough, but I am sure most of us have seen the blooper tape that represents Mr. Trump’s actual performance. Also well-covered by the media, but maybe not quite so much, was his performance at the Al Smith roast, in which the supposedly natural showman showed only how inept he would be in any public setting. It is this segment that I offer as this week’s freebie. If it is boorish behavior you want, then you will find that both Mr. Oliver and your subsequent narrator have delivered in spades.

Last Week Tonight, HBO, October 23, 2016

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Thomas Cleveland Lane

Thomas Cleveland Lane is a semi-retired freelance writer for pay and a stage actor for nothing more than the opportunity to make a fool of himself. Well, he does get a small stipend from the Washington Area Decency League, after playing the role of Hinezie in The Pajama Game, to never, ever appear on stage in his underpants again. When he has not managed to buffalo some director into casting him, Thomas can often be found at his favorite piano bar, annoying the patrons with his caterwauling. Thomas is the author of an anthology called Shaggy Dogs, a Collection of Not-So-Short Stories (destined to become a cult classic, shortly after he croaks). He is also the alter-ego to a very unbalanced Czech poet named Glub Dzmc. Mr. Lane generally resides in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and was last seen in the mirror, three days ago.