Late Night Last Week: John Oliver Becomes a Cake Bear and More

Comedy Features late night
Late Night Last Week: John Oliver Becomes a Cake Bear and More

Late Night Last Week is a column highlighting some of the more notable segments from the previous week of late night television. Today’s installment features clips from the week of June 10-16.

Jon Stewart Reminds Us Corporations Don’t Actually Care

Just because there is hardly anything new to say about big, soulless media conglomerates, does not mean such things should go unsaid. Last week, the Monday host of The Daily Show delved more into the conservative thinking of the corporation known as Apple. On The Town with Matthew Belloni, Jon Stewart revealed that his Apple TV+ series, The Problem with Jon Stewart, was canceled over disagreements in coverage topics and style. 

As he has in the past, Stewart used a “weather v. climate” analogy to describe his philosophy on The Problem. On The Daily Show, he dealt more with the news of the day, whereas with The Problem he could take a broader look at the institutions that shape society. Apple did not like the approach. While Stewart was quick to add that Apple did not censor him—“That’s part of the deal” he said of working with large corporations—the cancellation feels like censorship by a different name, the kind that comes with, well, just existing as a big, indestructible, global corporation aiming to consolidate power.

Anyway, the look behind the Apple curtain tied in nicely to Stewart’s weekly monologue on The Daily Show. With each year, it seems that the corporate groveling over Pride Month gets worse and worse. In fact, it is so ridiculous that Stewart needed only to show rather than tell when opening his monologue, which included marketing ploys from Burger King, Skittles, and, the most outlandish of all, an ad from Oreos that will for sure be the funniest thing you watch this week. 

Stewart uses Pride Month to take down corporate posturing more generally, from purported support for Black Lives Matter to anti-fascist messaging following the 2020 US election. He also exposes Target, who, after previously pushing Pride merchandise, is now caving to right-wing pressure to drop the messaging. Stewart reminds us of the only kind of value corporations care about: the number shareholders see at the end of each quarter. Just think of all the apologetic phone calls the executives at Apple TV+ would have had to make after this one. Crisis averted. 


Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert Gush Over the Strike Force Five

Now to an area of late night that could use some controversy, or at least a tad more friction. Near the end of the Writers Guild of America strikes last year, five late night talk show hosts—Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver—teamed up for the short lived podcast, Strike Force Five, to raise funds for their striking writers. Good, yes, solidarity with writers, etc. But it seems the lasting legacy of the podcast is that the once strictly collegial relationships between the hosts turned into genuine friendships. Is this not yet another disturbing consolidation of corporate power? 

On Wednesday, Seth Meyers, host of NBC’s Late Night, for the first time appeared as a guest on  The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The two talked fondly of one another (Meyers admitted Colbert is his favorite of the group) and shared memories of the gang surprising Colbert for his 60th birthday. As a weekly YouTube exclusive for Late Night, Seth Meyers will read “corrections” to previous episodes submitted by viewers. He brought a version of the segment—which Colbert professed to love—to his Late Show spot.

Have we really fallen so far? Are the Late Night Wars really that far behind us? Does that cliche about “iron sharpens iron” mean nothing anymore? I’m not saying they need to force controversy, but think of the future. Where’s the backstabbing? Where’s the made-for-television movie based on the drama? Think of the payday from an eventual Netflix reunion show in 2035! 

Taylor Tomlinson Proves AI Movie Scripts Are Worse Than You Think 

While the Late Night Avengers were celebrating their post-Writers-Strike friendships, Taylor Tomlinson was busy thinking about our dark, dystopian future. Artificial intelligence is here and bad in all kinds of ways. One thing AI is especially bad at is writing, and not bad in the “rich kid who knows he has a novel in him” kind of way, but just totally nonsensical. At this very moment, AI is processing everything ever written and trying to come up with material of its own, as demonstrated by innovators like Richard Eagleton of Stand Up Solutions

“Today,” Tomlinson said on last Thursday’s episode of After Midnight, “we’re going to fight back and steal art before AI gets the chance to.” Broadway star Jenna Ushkowitz and comics Eliot Glazer and Kate Micucci joined Tomlinson for the segment, “Where’s That Guy, Romeo?” Each of the guests were given a knockoff version of a famous movie script to perform. When called on to perform, Micucci looks at the camera and asks, “Are you trying to get my attention?” The audience gets the reference right away, making the poorness of the AI-generated script all the more hilariously bad. 

 John Oliver Becomes a Cake Bear

And now for the moment you have all been waiting for. As discussed in last week’s late night column, John Oliver bought a foreclosed Red Lobster franchise in upstate New York. This then prompted a local bakery owner, who had planned to buy the equipment inside, to share his disappointment with the local news. Oliver then promised to give the bakery new equipment on one condition: they make a version of their signature cake bear (which has a large behind, Oliver noted) with the host’s face. 

Well, last night, it happened. Not only did the bakery make Oliver’s dream come true, but they sold nearly 2,000 John Oliver Cake Bears. They even donated the proceeds to a local food bank. Oliver and his team gifted the equipment to the baker and made a donation of their own. It is a touching story that ended with Oliver taking a giant bite from the behind of an even larger cake bear the bakery sent him. “I can really only think of one way to end this, and that is to eat this bear that I love so very much, in the only universally acceptable manner,” Oliver said. “And that is by taking a bite out of its sumptuous ass. Here we go.” Prepare yourself for tears. Watch a clip from last week’s segment on Instagram, and the full episode on Max.

Will DiGravio is a Brooklyn-based critic and researcher, who first contributed to Paste in 2022. He is an assistant editor at Cineaste, a GALECA member, and since 2019 has hosted The Video Essay Podcast. You can follow and/or unfollow him on Twitter and learn more about him via his website.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin