Shortly after Donald Trump's inauguration as president, the man who begged Americans to Make Donald Drumpf Again is back: season four of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver will return this February. HBO released the brand-new promo, which invokes fellow HBO mainstays Silicon Valley and Game of Thrones, on Wednesday morning. In the trailer, Oliver turns his trademark acerbic wit back on himself, comparing his show to other successful HBO programs and falling short. The promo also features HBO stars Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley, also on IFC's Portlandia) and Larry David (the upcoming return of Curb Your Enthusiasm), both of whom are confused by Oliver's belief that his show is a hit.
Joking aside, for fans of the show, the return of John Oliver will be welcome comedic relief: Last Week Tonight returns Sunday, 2/12, at 11 p.m. Eastern time, just a few weeks into President-elect Trump's presidency.
The show has been eager to examine and ridicule Trump's campaign promises and persona in the past, and it's unlikely that this will change in the new year. His post-election episode, in which he dubbed the election, "I Thought I Wanted It to Be Over But Now That It's Over I Wish It Was Still Going On Because It Turns Out the Ending is Even Worse Twenty-F*cking-Sixteen," has nearly 10 million views on YouTube alone.
Amid that post-election turmoil, Last Week Tonight has indicated that it plans to take a more proactive tone in 2017. Its final episode of 2016 encouraged viewers to donate to a variety of causes to which Trump seems opposed, including Planned Parenthood and the National Resources Defense Council.
Now that Trump will actually be president when it airs, the show may encourage viewers to get involved contacting government agencies or their elected representatives about specific issues — something the show previously did when advocating for net neutrality, with evident success.
Last Week Tonight is just one entry in a crowded genre: fellow Daily Show alum Samantha Bee is currently headlining her own successful political comedy show on TBS, and Trevor Noah (who took over the Daily Show itself after Jon Stewart left) recently won headlines for his interview with conservative commentator Tomi Lahren. But Oliver has earned his own share of viral moments since his show began, like his infamous calling out of Donald Trump, whose ancestors allegedly changed the surname from Drumpf, and a viral piece about debt buyers that culminated in the show apparently purchasing — and forgiving — 15 million dollars worth of debt.
But now that a literal reality television star has been elected president, it is hard to see how late-night political comedy can produce something stranger than reality. When millions voted for Trump in spite of Oliver's invectives against him, incisive political humor looks more toothless than ever. Yet now that Trump is in office, the long slog of nominations and new legislation will begin in force — something most citizens have a hard time following as much as a flashy presidential race. As a result, Oliver's ability to make the tragic mediocre funny and relevant is more important than ever.