John Oliver - How "Last Week Tonight" Accidentally Eviscerates Its Targets

February 27, 2017 - John Oliver 02/27/2017 Views: 88,481

"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver talks about presenting political satire in the Donald Trump era and explains why he hates hyperbolic headlines about the show. (6:23)

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Please welcome John Oliver!

(cheering and applause)

Thank you.

Very kind.

You're very kind.

-This is so much fun for me.-Cheers.

-R-Really?-Yeah.

I feel like I'm watching TV now.

Well, uh, careful,I'm about to say (bleep),

and you'll have to bleep that.

That... Do you...do you enjoy that?

I feel like you rub thatin our faces,

the fact that you're, like,the only late night guy

who doesn't have to bleep.

Well, it's nice anyway, right?

It's nice to be ableto swear anyway.

But-but post-November,

it's really nice to swear.

It feels like curse wordshave become a club

you need in your bagto get through the day.

So, yeah, I like to utilizethe driver.

How much do you thinkTrump has affected this?

'Cause, I mean,you know what I used to love

about watching your show is,on Sundays, I'd go,

-"Okay, I'm gettingready to start my week." -Yeah.

"John Oliver's gonna dosomething, he's gonna be crazy,

he's gonna take meon a journey."

And the one thingyou always said was, "No Trump."

-No.-And then Trump was like,

"Oh, we'll seehow long that lasts."

-(laughter)-Yeah, right.

Yeah, he really called meon that bull (bleep)

in the most profound,damaging possible way.

I really hope I didn't factor

into anything he's ever done,but, yeah, it was...

No, I really enjoyed the time

that he was nota relevant political figure.

-Yes. -It's going to be a whilebefore I feel that way again.

Do you ever enjoy Trump, though?

Like, is there a moment...?

People always ask methat question.

They go like,"Oh, do you ever...?"

I'm thinking.

I'm coming up snake eyeson that roll at the moment.

Have I ever enjoyed him?

-Have you never?-I mean...

-There's got to be, like, onetime you enjoyed... -No. Sure.

When he was like a...just like a... you know?

Well, no, he's... like, he's acharismatic, funny man.

Yes.

-So he was like a fun clown.-Mm-hmm.

But the beauty with clowns,actual clowns is

that, you know,they can knock into things,

-and their cars explode.-Yeah.

And their shoes are too big,but they don't

-run the most powerful nationin the world. -(laughter)

So I feel likeyou take the best clown,

and you put themin the Oval Office,

and things get less funny.

(laughter)

-That's my concern.-(applause and cheering)

He was... he was funny.

-Aah!-He was a funny man,

and he should have stuck to that

rather than whatever it ishe's doing now.

It is terrifying.

Every single day,it is terrifying.

You know when I knewit was terrifying is when,

on your show, you said,

"It's not good enoughto just watch the show.

"It's not good enoughto just tweet.

"You have to get out thereand do something.

You have to support people."

That was maybe the first time

I ever saw John Oliver come outand go like,

"Okay, let's put, like,the comedy aside

just for a little bitand do something."

I don't gener...Ah, maybe.

I don't know. I don't...generally like to do that.

-Yeah. -I don't like to setthe comedy aside, right,

because I feel like anythingthat we try and do

-I want to do through comedy.-Yeah.

So I feel like everything isin pursuit of a joke.

Now, when we talk for...when we do our long stories,

right-- which can be 20,30 minutes sometimes--

-I've noticed.-Yeah, you want to get...

-(laughter)-Yeah, it can feel longer.

I understand that.

It's... You feel likeyou want to give some sense

-of closing an argument out.-Yeah.

So, you don't wantto talk for 20 minutes,

paint a terrible picture, andthen say, "Okay, good night."

-(laughter) -So sometimeswe like to point towards

what we think would bea solution to those things.

-Mm-hmm. -And occasionally,people might have some power

in terms of facilitatingsome kind of change,

but that is not the reasonfor doing what we do.

Do you ever, like,read the news the next day,

and then, you were just tryingto highlight an issue,

and then they go like,"John Oliver eviscerates!,"

and you're like,"I was just trying

to talk about the issue."?

-Yeah, it's kind of... -Like,do you eviscerate by mistake,

is what I'm saying?

-Yeah. Accidental eviscerationis the worst kind. -Yes.

It's pretty dispiriting,to be honest, 'cause we...

Again, like, in a long piece,we work really hard

-to put a lot nuance in there.-Yes.

'Cause things are very rarelycompletely black and white.

So, we really tryand inject nuance,

and then, you can't reallydo anything about the fact

that's often packagedin a very reductive way.

So, yeah, if you've spent weeksworking on something,

and you try and show the shadesof grey in it,

and then someone says,"He disembowels this issue,"

you think, well, I didn't reallydo it, but I didn't say I did.

I didn't sayI was going to disembowel you.

You're making me promise thingsI didn't promise.

So, yeah, it can bepretty dispiriting.

I don't know.Do you find that? Yeah?

You sound likea really humble politician.

"I didn't promise that.I really didn't promise that."

-Yeah. -I didn't,and they made me deliver."

No, you know what. I don't thinkwe have that as much.

Like, it's...

You know, people wantevisceration, people go, like...

They want youto destroy a thing

so that it is gone forever.

Jon always jokedabout that, as well,

where he was like,"It's still there." -Yeah.

He got it really bad.Right, it would often be, yeah,

"Jon Stewart takes a sword tothe heart of this issue..."

-Yes. -"...pulls its out,wipes the sword off

-and slinks it on his trousers."-(laughter)

Yeah, it's silly,but you can't do anything

about that secondary packaging,all right,

-so you've just got to move on.-If you had a chance

to do a daily show, would you do it?

Like, looking at how much newscomes out now?

Surely, 'cause you have Sunday,

and everyone says the grassis greener on the other side.

-Yeah. -Right, so,I watch your show and I'm like,

"Man, you're so lucky, John.You get to do one show a week."

-Mm-hmm. -And then,I don't know if it's...

-Are you, like, watching...? -Itdoesn't feel that way, because

-it's... you know, there's a lotthat goes into that. -Yeah.

So there is a real...

There's a great mental clarity

to having a showto do the next day, 'cause then

you don't feel too badabout the show you've just done.

-(laughter) -Not thatthis was terrible! Not that...

-(applause and cheering)-I'm just... Not that this...

I'm just saying!

I'm just saying,you'll be fine tomorrow!

You'll be fine.

You can take another swing!That's all I'm just saying.

-Did you just eviscerate me?-(laughter, applause & cheering)

I feel likeyou just eviscerated me.

I think I might have done.

I think that wasan accidental evisceration.

That was an accident...

I just got evisceratedby John Oliver in an interview!

Thank you so muchfor being on the show.

-It's a pleasure. Yeah.-Thank you so much.

Last Week Tonight airs Sundaysat 11:00 p.m. on HBO.

John Oliver, everybody!