“Hello, there, I’m John Oliver and before we start the show tonight, I would like to quickly address the tragic events in Orlando.”
So began Sunday night’s edition of HBO’s Last Week Tonight. No credits. No music. Just Oliver sitting behind his desk, staring intently at the camera. Earlier in the day, a madman had stormed into the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, handguns, and rounds upon rounds of ammunition. There, he executed at least 49 innocent people in a rampage fueled, according to his father, by anti-gay hatred after witnessing two men kissing in Miami. He’d also pledged allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call, according to U.S. officials, though the details of his connection to the terrorist organization remain hazy.
The typically upbeat Oliver maintained a solemn tone in the cold open, seeming equal parts frustrated, angry, and ashamed that this, the deadliest mass shooting in American history, could happen in his adopted homeland.
“As I’m sure you know by now, at least 50 people were killed by a gunman at a gay nightclub in what is being described as a terrorist attack. And look, it’s still early and details are still emerging, and right now, this just hurts,” he said.
“And the worst thing is this pain is so familiar,” Oliver continued. “In Paris last November, terrorists seemed to target places symbolizing everything that is wonderful about France—culture, music, restaurants. And in Orlando earlier this morning, a gunman attacked a Latin night at a gay club in the theme park capital of the world. And for the record, I will happily embrace a Latin night at a gay club at the theme park capital of the world as the ultimate symbol about what is truly wonderful about America.”
But Oliver ended his message on a note of hope. “And it’s hard to even know what to do in the wake of an event like this. We do have a comedy show for you. We’ll begin it in a minute with what will seem like jarringly inappropriate jangly music, and I’m sure there will be much more to say about Orlando going forward, but for right now, on a day when some dipshit terrorist wants us to focus on one man’s act of brutality and hatred, it might be worth seeing this video, which was posted to Twitter today.”
Oliver then threw to a clip of hundreds upon hundreds of people lined up outside the OneBlood bank in Orlando to donate blood in order to aid the victims of the gay nightclub tragedy.
“It shows hundreds and hundreds of people this morning lining up around the block in Florida waiting to donate blood,” said Oliver. “And it kind of reminds you that that terrorist dipshit is vastly outnumbered.”