Television Puppetry

John Oliver and puppet pals take down America’s prison policy

By July 22, 2014 August 7th, 2017 No Comments

As far as I’m concerned, Last Week Tonight is one of the best things on television.

Hosted by British comedian John Oliver, each episode is a nearly pitch-perfect blend of satire and seriousness. Whether it’s educating us about the evils of FIFA and the World Cup, inciting Americans to overwhelm a U.S. government web site with support for net neutrality, or a doing a hilarious takedown of POM Wonderful’s dubious health claims, the show’s hard-hitting rants take gleeful aim at current events, calling out politicians and other powers-that-be on their lies and bullshit (as Rolling Stone recently pointed out, it has the advantage of being on a cable network where you’re actually allowed to say “bullshit”).

This week the show took aim at the United States’ horribly broken prison system, which famously houses more prisoners than any other nation on Earth. To help put the issue in to perspective, the segment mentioned Sesame Workshop’s recent effort to address the problem of children who have parents in prison, which is sadly becoming a serious issue in the United States (a staggering 1 in 25 Americans is either in jail or prison at any given time). John and a cast of puppets then performed a very Sesame-like song about American prison policies (click to skip right to the song at the 14:40 mark if you don’t watch to watch the entire clip above).

The puppets featured in the segment were built by Bob Flanagan’s Den Design Studio in New York and were performed by (left to right in the photo above) Noel Macneal, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, James Wojtal, and Paul Radki (not pictured).

Last Week Tonight airs Sunday nights on HBO. The series is also available to HBO subscribers on the HBO GO app and highlights are regularly posted on YouTube.

Leave a Reply