On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver faced the difficult challenge of responding to the Paris attacks with the right mix of solemnity and humor. Oliver decided to go for humor, or at least with anger. In a profanity-laden opening, Oliver said that, first, “It’s hardly been 48 hours, and much is still unknown” at this point, but — and here he admitted that “it helps to be on HBO” — he’d like to offer his viewers a moment of pure profanity. “Second, and this almost goes without saying,” the host began, “Fuck these assholes. Fuck them, if I may say, sideways.”
Oliver then launched into a crescendo of insults, concluding by condemning the attackers, known to be linked to ISIS, for their “ideology of pure assholer-y.” And, pivoting to the people of France, Oliver celebrated the nation that has come under attack. “If you’re in a war of culture and lifestyle with France,” he began, “good fucking luck. Because, go ahead, bring your bankrupt ideology. They’ll bring Jean-Paul Sartre, Edith Piaf, fine wine, Gauloises cigarettes, Camus, Camembert, madeleines, macarons, Marcel Proust, and the fucking croquembouche!”
“You brought a philosophy of rigorous self-abnegation to a pastry fight, my friend,” Oliver ended his run.
“To the people of France, our thoughts are truly with you,” the host continued. “And I do not doubt that there will be more to say on all of this as events unspool, but for now, we are going to continue with the rest of our show.”
The rest of the episode of Last Week Tonight focused on Single’s Day, an invented holiday in China, and fantasy football. The opening credits also featured a French flag.