Department or Program



This thesis examines John Oliver’s coverage of the political rise of Donald Trump throughout the third season of his show, Last Week Tonight. In his coverage of the election, Oliver speaks with knowledge on various issues related to the election to a nonspecialist audience, thereby engaging in a performance of public intellect. In doing so, Oliver frames himself and his audience as comic heroes attempting to correct mistaken or tricked comic villains. However, Oliver also uses burlesque humor to frame the villains of his arguments as absurd and ridiculous, thus both accepting and rejecting their legitimacy. I argue that Oliver’s comic and burlesque performance of public intellect constitutes a new development in the late night comedy-news genre.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Kelley-Romano, Stephanie

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Open Access

Available to all.