John Oliver brought European sensibilities to Last Week Tonight when he appealed to the French population’s reason – in their native tongue.
His intention was to attack the cult of populism which has attached itself to far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. Le Pen has been compared to Trump many times – due to her nationalist stance on immigration and terrorism, as well as her praise for Brexit.
Le Pen is campaigning against leftist Emmanuel Macron ahead of the 23 April election. Macron recently said at a rally “Do you know what’s going to happen next Sunday? We are going to win, and it will be the beginning of a new France.”
John Oliver compared Le Pen to Donald Trump, drawing disconcerting parallels between the two campaigners: “A potentially destabilising populist campaigning on anti-immigrant rhetoric who rages against the elites despite having a powerful father and inherited wealth even as all the experts reassure us that there is no way this could possibly happen.”
Aware that being a British man on an American talk show isn’t likely to win him any French fans, Oliver opted for a (literal) change of scene. Switching to a black and white scheme, with an accordion player in the background, Oliver addressed voters – “Please join me, France, at a cosy bistro…let us drink wine, listen to accordion music and smoke into each other’s faces”.
Appealing to the French Enlightenment philosophy and ideals of liberty, egality and fraternity, Olive urged the French not to “fuck up…like Britain and the U.S. had”.
“Marine Le Pen is a – how do you say in French? A demagogic asshole”, Oliver explained.
His lack of restraint is entirely necessary, given the potential for a repeat of Trump’s 2016 election.