Brow Beat

John Oliver Breaks Down Boris Johnson’s “Carefully Calibrated” Buffoonery

Last week was a big one for anyone following the implosion of British politics as the U.K.’s Conservative Party announced that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson would officially replace Theresa May as prime minister. The former mayor of London has finally fumbled his way to the top of the British political ladder. Boris Johnson has made a political name for himself by acting (and looking) like an idiot, but despite his childish public statements and actions and frequent presentation of himself as a “cartoon Englishman who dresses like a raccoon who just emerged from David Foster Wallace’s trash,” John Oliver argued that “Johnson’s bumbling persona is a carefully calculated act.”


Now that Johnson is the hand steering the U.K. in negotiations to exit the EU, Oliver’s Last Week Tonight is poking holes in Johnson’s strategically dimwitted political persona and asking how (or if) Johnson’s “lovable mess” act will help avert a Brexit disaster. Since ascending as prime minister last week, Johnson, a man who rose to power on the false claim that the EU wanted to ban shrimp cocktail–flavored potato chips (which taste, as Oliver describes, like “eating a cremated mermaid”) has already gutted the majority of Theresa May’s Cabinet and replaced them with pro-Brexit hard-liners friendly to his particular brand of deception.

Bluster and bombast may have worked for Johnson before, Oliver says, enabling him “not only to survive when he fucks up, but to actually benefit.” But as the final deadline for Brexit negotiations looms, the stakes for the prime minister have never been higher and less kind to even the most “lovable” fuckups, no matter how many cups of tea or rounds of “whiff-whaff” they might be offering.