HBO’s ‘Last Week Tonight’ writer to speak at NMU

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Jamie Glenn

Award winning stand up comedian, actor and screenwriter Kevin Avery, widely known for his contributions to HBO’s satirical political commentary show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” will speak on campus at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19 in Jamrich room 1100 for a Platform Personalities presentation.

Platform Personalities Adviser Rachel Harris, who has been affiliated with the group for 20 years, explained how Avery stood out from among the other presenters who were available to bring to Northern.

“Why is [Oliver] so funny? Well he must have some pretty funny writers. That’s how [Avery’s] name kind of came up,” Harris said. “He’s associated with the show, he had won awards, he was an emmy nominated writer, so he’s obviously a funny guy, so that’s how he was brought to the table. It’s a lot of who [Platform Personalities] think the student body would be interested in.”

This presentation will be structured a little differently than usual, Harris said. It will begin with an opening talk followed by a more discussion-based time, including audience interaction and questions, moderated by NMU political science professor Steve Nelson.

Harris speaks to the fast paced life of a screenwriter like Avery and what those who attend may be able to learn from his presentation.

“If anyone’s interested in any of these things, beginning [as] a writer, an actor, a comedian, [or] political events, or just humor, any of those things, I think you’ll enjoy the show quite a bit,” Harris said. “I think it would be fun to learn a bit about the inside life of what it’s like working on a TV show with John Oliver. How fast-paced is it? How fast are they turning over the stories, because the news is happening [quickly]. You have to be on your toes. You have to be ready to be funny and creative. I think it’ll be fun to learn what that’s like to work in that environment.”

After his presentation, Avery will also show a short film that he made called “Thugs, the Musical.”

Platform Personalities Co-president Sarah Head, a junior economics major, explained the student organization’s goal in bringing Avery to speak at Northern.

“The purpose of our group is to bring educational, motivational and inspirational speakers to campus,” Head said. “We like to mix it up throughout the year. We like to keep our finger on the pulse, in a sense that we want them to be politically relevant at the time, in hopes that it would bring in an audience. Avery is really involved with making potentially scary, hot topic things in politics funny and light-hearted.”

Head shares what it is that she thinks students are drawn to when it comes to Platform Personalities presentations.

“I think it’s going to be very eye opening as to the behind the scenes of John Oliver’s ‘Last Week Tonight’ show because that’s such a big show,” Head said. “A lot of students I know watch it. Comedians are always a huge hit, especially politically charged [ones]… We have a lot of social justice warriors [at NMU] who love the light-hearted jokes with the underlying messages underneath.”

NMU students get into the event free with their student IDs, and the admission price for the general public is $2.