Keep the bleeps on HBO’s ‘Last Week Tonight With John Oliver’

John Oliver shows off his dirty mouth on "Last Week Tonight." (HBO) John Oliver shows off his dirty mouth on “Last Week Tonight.” (HBO)

On his HBO show “Last Week Tonight” (11 p.m. Sundays), comedian John Oliver can say nasty words without “that bleeping noise” that masked his swears on “The Daily Show.” That’s because Comedy Central (and other basic cable channels) impose a modicum of standards while premium cable lets people cuss it up.

Oliver says he’s thrilled his swears are being heard.

I’m not. There’s nothing brilliant about using the “F” word. Anyone can say it! Sure, it has shock value and can create humor when uttered in an unexpected context. But to my ears, a bleep is funnier. It reminds us that the “F” word and its obscene kin cross a societal line of what’s OK and what’s not, even in the anything-goes 21st century. When Jon Stewart is bleeped for saying “The good people of New York do not give a [bleep]” about efforts to make yogurt the state snack, the bleep makes the joke funnier. We all know what he’s saying — and that he shouldn’t be saying it.

Besides, there are better ways to convey the idea of cussing. I [bleeping] love Tina Fey’s “What the what!?”

Need more of Marc’s TV musings? Check out these bites of wisdom:

“I Wanna Marry Harry” is no more fraudulent than “The Bachelorette”

A brief history of dealing with actors who wanted out 

Marc Silver has been watching TV since the days when people wrapped aluminum foil around TV antennae to improve reception.



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