John Oliver Tackles Cryptocurrency on Last Week Tonight

On Sunday evening, John Oliver devoted 25 minutes to cryptocurrency on his eponymous HBO Show. The comedian and political commentator treated viewers to a whistle stop tour of crypto – the good, the bad, and the ugly – during Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO. Topics included decentralization, Bitconnect, and blockchain.

John Oliver Does Bitcoin Because It’s the Current Year

Like all mainstream comedians, John Oliver is a divisive figure; some love him, some hate his smug grin and supercilious sermonizing. The British-born comic made his name on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, picking up three Primetime Emmys along the way. For the past four years he’s anchored Last Week Tonight and earned acclaim for his willingness to tackle complex topics such as gun control. On Sunday March 11, the 40-year-old took on one of his most complex subjects yet – cryptocurrency. During the course of the show, Oliver provided a broad overview of cryptocurrency and everything that comes bundled with it.

The comedian, pilloried for his calls for progressiveness “because it’s [the current year]”, ticked off many of the tropes that are de rigueur when mainstream media does crypto. Beanie Babies, the wild west, pump and dumps, and Bitconnect were all mentioned, as was the practise of brands gratuitously adding “blockchain” to their name. Oliver then declared that he was renaming his show Last Bit Tonight with Block Chainiver.

Millions Learn of Last Year’s Memes

Crypto heads will have learned nothing from Sunday’s edition of Last Week Tonight, though the show’s four million viewers should have gleaned a few insights amidst all the jokes. There have certainly been worse attempts at summarizing the world of cryptocurrency, even if Oliver’s efforts are unlikely to trigger a renewed bitcoin frenzy. The episode felt as if Oliver had just learned of cryptocurrency 10 minutes before going on air, and felt obliged to bring his audience up to speed on its history and technology post-haste.

ICOs were compared to Chuck E Cheese tokens, HODL was pronounced “Hoe-duhl” and Oliver also uttered such acronyms as “FUD” alongside “moon”, “rekt”, and “lambo”. “Many people are buying coins for no other reason than other people are buying them,” observed the English comedian, before showing an advert for a P&D group called Crypto Calls that explained how members could profit at others’ expense. “In speculative mania it can be hard to tell what’s real,” noted Oliver, before finishing with a section on Block.one and the reported $1.5 billion is has raised for EOS, as shilled by the maverick Brock Pierce.

According to Pierce, EOS is going to “change everything”. “How is EOS going to change this iguana?” retorted Oliver. In his concluding remarks, Oliver instructed: “Just know that you’re not investing [in crypto], you’re gambling…Caution is a tough sell when you’re up against Bitconnect and Hodl Gang,” before signing off with one final cliche: “Bitcoin could be worthless or it could be worth millions”.

12.03.2018 / 13:40 98
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