Last Week Tonight Episode Review: John Oliver Renders Unto Caesar…and Not Caesar

Let me start this article with the second part and then circle around to the first, so that we can get this Caesar business out of the way. Naturally, the host of Last Week Tonight had nothing to say to or about Julius Caesar. Your narrator is having some questionable fun at the expense of the Biblical quote*.

The second part of the most recent show featured an extensive interview with the Dalai Lama, as well as a pretty thorough explanation of his position in today’s world and the Asian mainland. It was not only informative, it was a good deal more amusing than you might suspect, considering the subject matter. I felt no sense of distaste as Oliver dared to jape lightly with the holy man, nor, I believe, did the Dalai Lama himself. What I did find offensive was that Mr. Oliver saw fit to bring in a crude and lewd metaphor involving a well-known actor. It only served to diminish, not enhance the segment. Ugly as that portion was, the entire segment was well worth our attention.

The first part of the show was all about life in the good old U.S. of A. No surprise there, right? During this part of the show—largely, but not entirely starring D. Jamal Trump—the host touched on three subtopics: that the present President’s accusations against the former President were quite possibly a bit on the bizarre side; that this whole flapdoodle involving Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign could be seen as what Oliver called a stupid version of Watergate, and, feeding off of that idea, the situation with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Note to Betsy DeVos: You should send Jeff Sessions a thank-you card. He has taken an immense amount of heat away from you…at least for the time being. Still, Madame Secretary, there will eventually come a time when, as one of my least favorite heavyweight champions once said, “The chickens are coming home to roast.”** But I stray.) It is the Sessions segment that I have provided as your weekly peek…and possibly your weekly pique, but that is entirely up to you.

As I watched the show, I was inclining to show the bit about Trump’s accusations against Obama, but, right at the end of that part and having no relevance to it whatsoever, Oliver stuck in one of those smug, never at all funny segments about several newscasters all saying the same or nearly the same thing. How about if HBO gives you two minutes to step out from behind the desk with a top hat and cane and lets you give us a little soft-shoe, if you will just eschew the repeated garbage that never works and never will. We had that same kind of problem last week, if you may recall.

Okay, to wrap up, good show, despite this or that. Now let me clean up these footnotes, then we can all go home.

*- The Biblical quote: “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar. Render unto God that which is God’s”—J. Christ

** – The pugilist in question was Floyd Patterson in the process of debating a concept stated by fellow philosopher Malcolm X on The Tonight Show


Last Week Tonight, HBO, March 4, 2017

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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.


  1. Brooklyn Reader

    March 7, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Please try to remember that Oliver is not a journalist. He’s a comedian, and his stock and trade is satire. He takes it a bit further, though, into investigative satire, with often astounding results that come out way more serious that supposedly serious journalism. Call him a social justice investigative satirist, or whatever, but stop quibbling about what’s comedy and what’s not. That’s his job.

    • Dex

      March 7, 2017 at 5:41 pm


      • JG

        March 7, 2017 at 5:43 pm

        Give unto Sid Caesar what is Sid Caesar’s…..

      • Brooklyn Reader

        March 7, 2017 at 10:38 pm

        I think you may have just won the internet.