I can't say this enough: John Oliver should never, ever break out his southern accent. Not even if, as on Thursday night's Daily Show, he is skewering celebrity chef Paula Deen. The hook for his Deen-bashing is a recently unearthed deposition in which the butter-obsessed cook says that "of course" she has used the n-word, though "it's been a very long time."
Oliver digs a little deeper and finds some other questionable things Deen has said regarding race, prompting the theme of the first half of the show: "Fried & Prejudice." The show glides from vaguely uncomfortable to slightly mean-spirited when Oliver shifts the focus from plantation-themed weddings to Deen's diabetes. It's apparently a set-up for the next segment, though, where Oliver turns the Deen-roasting over to correspondent Jessica Williams:
Williams says that Deen isn't to blame for saying racially insensitive things, because she clearly has either Type 1 or Type 2 racism. Oliver, naturally, asks the difference between the two types, and Williams explains. Deen, she says, could have either the hereditary or adult-onset version. But it isn't until the end that Williams really twists the knife. When Oliver suggests that Williams has actually been surprisingly easy on Deen — a questionable statement — she draws blood: "Paula Deen's words aren't hurting black people anywhere near as much as her recipes are."
If the Deen takedown was a little too much of, as Oliver puts it, "a rich comedic buffet," here's a palate-cleanser from late-night TV's nice guy, Jimmy Fallon. Fallon asked younger viewers to record themselves playing video games with their mothers, then send them in. This is what he got:
If you want a little more substance, we return to The Daily Show for a little media criticism from Oliver and storied NBC newsman Tom Brokaw:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 29 adorable slang terms for sex (from the last 600 years)
- Why America is duty-bound to help Iraqi Christians
- Israel has only two choices: Eliminate the Palestinians or make peace
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- Here's the last time Russia shot down a passenger plane
Subscribe to the Week