Speed Reads

May the fourth be with you

John Oliver finds the essence of America in 4th of July fireworks extravaganzas

John Oliver finds America in 4th of July fireworks

Watch out, Alexis de Tocqueville. John Oliver's Last Week Tonight took the week off for the Fourth of July holiday — or as they call it in England, "the day of colonial aggression," Oliver joked. But on Sunday night, he thoughtfully posted a pre-review of last week, not quite weighing in on the various newsy things that happened during the seven days he was off. Mostly, though, he used his pulpit to give a Briton's impression of America's obsession with watching fireworks on the Fourth.

The whole bit is classic Oliver, but he ends with a very short sermon on what the elaborate spectacle of the American fireworks show says about the country that created it, from the anticipation to the problems you had parking to the classical music playing underneath to the oddly unsatisfying grand finale — and the certainty that the exact same scenario will play out next year. "That, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes America great," Oliver said. "The ability to wholeheartedly embrace excitement while letting disappointment and failure slip away as quickly as you can." Thanks? --Peter Weber