Podcast Moments: John Oliver’s Bugle
May 10, 2012 1 Comment
After professing my admiration for Jon Oliver’s “Inside the Political Curtain” interview of Herman Cain, several people recommended Oliver’s podcast to me. I had never even heard of The Bugle, which he co-hosts with Andy Zaltzman.
OLIVER (deep voice): I’ve come to fix your photo-copier.
OLIVER (high voice): I don’t have a photo-copier.
OLIVER (deep voice): I know.
The first episode I listened to, “A secret servicing,” came out the same week as the Secret Service Colombian prostitution scandal. To start, I wasn’t taken. It seemed slow to take off and I wasn’t invested in their initial repartee.
But that can’t have lasted long. Five minutes, maybe eight? The show then began picking up speed, making its way faster and faster along the runway…
OLIVER: There’ve been some outstanding sex scandals this week, diverting attention from some of the incredibly serious things happening all over the world: breakdown of the tenuous ceasefire in Syria, the looming war between north and south Sudan, the testing of India’s first nuclear-capable missile. We could focus on those stories. We could. Or, we could, like the rest of the media, focus on titillating sex scandals. So, which is it to be? Oh yeah, you know how I do it baby, I focus on the wrong thing all night long.
ZALTZMAN: My god. I think I need a bath.
OLIVER: You can’t wash your insides, Andy.
…and when they hit the news, they took off. They were both hilarious (incredible inventive wordplay and comic flights of fancy) and on topic (they actually spoke about the socio-economic framework of American-Colombian relations, which made their take on the Secret Service scandal 400% more substantive than any reporting done by CNN, with 800% more funny.)
The team of Oliver and Zaltzman are sharp and perceptive. I didn’t notice any other news or entertainment sources noting how the Congressional reaction to the scandal was, in part, a wee bit silly.
Senator Collins said that she asked [Secret Service director Mark] Sullivan a number of questions during her phone briefing, such as: “Who were these women? Could they have been members of groups hostile to the United States? Could they have planted bugs, disabled weapons, or jeopardized the security of the president or our country?” And those are all legitimate concerns, and also show that Senator Collins may have been watching slightly too many James Bond movies recently. “Did any of the girls come iconically out of the ocean in slow motion wearing white bikinis? Did they try to snap any of your necks with their powerful legs? Did they have amusing double-entendre names?”
And then there’s the way in which they revel in silliness. I hadn’t come across the Newt Gingrich penguin incident…
OLIVER: Newt Gingrich was bitten by a penguin. Let your ears beautiful sequence of words. A penguin looked up at Newt Gingrich without knowing what it was doing and yet simultaneously somehow knowing for sure that what it was doing was right — it bit him. It bit him in the finger. Would it have been better if it had bitten Newt Gingrich on the face or on the penis or on the ear or one of his over-sized jowls, then happily swinging there for several seconds? Sure, sure it would have been better. But we have to be happy with what we received, because one thing is for damned sure. Newt Gingrich being bitten by a penguin on the finger is a f*ck of a lot better than Newt Gingrich not being bitten at all.
In some ways I’m disappointed. Now I’ve got another podcast on my must-listen list, and just don’t have the time.