Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Last Week Tonight Title Card.jpg
Genre Comedy, news satire
Created by HBO
Developed by John Oliver
Presented by John Oliver
Opening theme "Go" by Valley Lodge[1]
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 24 (as of November 9, 2014) (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) John Oliver
Tim Carvell
James Taylor
Jon Thoday
Producer(s) Liz Stanton
Location(s) CBS Broadcast Center
New York, New York
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Avalon Television
Original channel HBO
Picture format 1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Original run April 27, 2014 (2014-04-27) – present
External links

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is an American late-night talk show airing Sundays at 11:00 p.m. on HBO in the United States and HBO Canada, and on Tuesday 11:15 p.m. (GMT) on Sky Atlantic in the United Kingdom.[2] The half-hour long[3] show premiered on Sunday, April 27, 2014, and is hosted by comedian John Oliver. Last Week Tonight shares some similarities with Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where Oliver was previously featured as a correspondent and fill-in host, exploring a satirical look at news, politics and current events on a weekly basis.[2]

Oliver's contract with HBO lasts two years with an option for more. Oliver says he has full creative freedom, including free rein to criticize corporations. That freedom may be facilitated in part by HBO's ad-free premium subscription model. Oliver and HBO programming president Michael Lombardo have discussed extending the show from half an hour to a full hour and airing more than once a week after Oliver "gets his feet under him."[4]


Oliver described his preparations for the show to an interviewer for The Wire: "... I basically have to watch everything. The only thing I kind of watch for pleasure is Fareed Zakaria's show on Sundays... That and 60 Minutes I watch for pleasure, or maybe Frontline... I have a TV on in my office all the time and I'll generally flick around on that from CNN, Fox, MSNBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Al Jazeera... I'm watching with a certain thing in mind and that is how to see a story told badly."[5]

He admitted to another interviewer that he is concerned about dealing with old news: "If something happens on a Monday, realistically all the meat is going to be picked off that bone by the time it gets to us - there's probably barely a point in doing it... I think we'll be attracted to some extent by stories that are off the grid... Our show may end up skewing more international in terms of stories."

Tim Carvell, executive producer of Last Week Tonight, explained to an interviewer how the cast and crew deal with a half hour of Oliver speaking without any commercial breaks. "Structural considerations are leading to changes in the content in the show that will inherently make it different from The Daily Show... We realized early on, you don't necessarily want to hear anybody talk to you for a half an hour straight – even John, who is very charming – so we are constructing these little, produced comedy elements that will serve the function of commercial breaks throughout the show, which will let us get out of the studio, get us away from John's voice and break the show up a bit." Carvell also revealed that HBO gave them freedom in choosing guests for the show, advising them not to feel obligated to feature celebrities.[6]

When asked by an interviewer about "correspondents" such as those featured on The Daily Show, Oliver replied, "we're not going to be a parody news show, so no people pretending to be journalists."[7]


The first season of the show premiered on April 29, 2014 and concluded on November 9, 2014. The second season is set to premiere in February 2015.[8]

Season 1 (2014)[edit]

Title Guest Original air date U.S. viewers
"Episode 1" Keith B. Alexander April 27, 2014 (2014-04-27) 1.11[9]
Segments: Indian general election, 2014, POM Wonderful LLC v. Coca-Cola Co.
"Episode 2" Simon Ostrovsky May 4, 2014 (2014-05-04) 1.19[10]
Segments: capital punishment in the United States, Hassanal Bolkiah
"Episode 3" Bill Nye May 11, 2014 (2014-05-11) 1.01[11]
Segments: United States Senate election in Kentucky, 2014, global warming controversy
"Episode 4" Fareed Zakaria May 18, 2014 (2014-05-18) 1.03[12]
Segments: General Motors controversy, right to be forgotten (Google Spain v AEPD and Mario Costeja González)
"Episode 5" no guest June 1, 2014 (2014-06-01) 0.985[13]
Segments: net neutrality in the United States, 87th Scripps National Spelling Bee
"Episode 6" Right Said Fred June 8, 2014 (2014-06-08) 0.952[14]
Segments: FIFA, Bashar al-Assad
"Episode 7" Stephen Hawking June 15, 2014 (2014-06-15) 0.905[15]
Segments: Washington Redskins name controversy, immigration reform in the United States
"Episode 8" Steve Buscemi June 22, 2014 (2014-06-22) 0.890[16]
Segments: monarchies, Dr. Oz's June 2014 Senate hearing and the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994
"Episode 9" Pepe Julian Onziema June 29, 2014 (2014-06-29) 0.847[17]
Segments: Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, LGBT rights in Uganda
"Episode 10" no guest July 13, 2014 (2014-07-13) 0.84[18]
Segments: income inequality and wealth inequality in the United States, public image of CIA
"Episode 11" no guest July 20, 2014 (2014-07-20) 0.922[19]
Segments: Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Commonwealth Games, incarceration in the United States
"Episode 12" no guest July 27, 2014 (2014-07-27) 1.00[20]
Segments: nuclear weapons and the United States, Russia's miscommunication with mating geckos lost in space
"Episode 13" no guest August 3, 2014 (2014-08-03) 0.964[21]
Segments: Argentine debt restructuring, native advertising
"Episode 14" Sarah Silverman August 10, 2014 (2014-08-10) 0.940[22]
Segments: payday loans in the United States, Russia's import embargo on U.S. chicken and soybean
"Episode 15" no guest August 17, 2014 (2014-08-17) 1.03[23]
Segments: shooting of Michael Brown and police militarization in Ferguson, MO, equal pay for equal work
"Episode 16" A Great Big World September 7, 2014 (2014-09-07) N/A
Segments: student debt, eulogy for mating space geckos
"Episode 17" no guest September 14, 2014 (2014-09-14) 0.70[24]
Segments: Scottish independence referendum, Twitter
"Episode 18" Kathy Griffin September 21, 2014 (2014-09-21) 0.825[25]
Segments: United States embargo against Cuba, Miss America 2015
"Episode 19" no guest September 28, 2014 (2014-09-28) 0.710[26]
Segments: drones, Kansas state budget shortfall
"Episode 20" Jeff Goldblum October 5, 2014 (2014-10-05) 0.66[27]
Segments: 2022 Winter Olympics, civil forfeiture
"Episode 21" Mohammad Usafi[28][29] October 19, 2014 (2014-10-19) N/A
Segments: Special Immigrant Visa, Supreme Court of the United States
"Episode 22" Jane Goodall October 26, 2014 (2014-10-26) 0.758[30]
Segments: sugar, Doug Ford, Jr.
"Episode 23" Nick Offerman, H. Jon Benjamin and Sarah Baker November 2, 2014 (2014-11-02) 0.60[31]
Segments: U.S. state legislatures in United States elections, 2014 and the American Legislative Exchange Council
"Episode 24" no guest November 9, 2014 (2014-11-09) 0.796[32]
Segments: lottery, salmon cannon


Oliver's debut show garnered 1.11 million viewers.[9] The number of viewers online, through websites such as YouTube showing extended clips of different segments, have steadily climbed into multiple millions.

Hank Stuever of The Washington Post compared Oliver's program with The Daily Show several times in his review of Oliver's debut: "another scathing, stick-it-to-'em critique of American mass media and politics shellacked in satire and delivered by a funny if almost off-puttingly incredulous man with a British accent... Exactly like The Daily Show, the goal is to make elected and appointed officials, as well as just about any corporate enterprise, look foolish and inept while slyly culling together television news clips that make the media look equally inept at covering such evident truths."[33]

James Poniewozik of Time similarly compared Last Week with The Daily Show, but also wrote that the "full half-hour gives Oliver the room to do more," and praised Oliver's "sharper tone and his globalist, English-outsider perspective," as well as his "genuine passion over his subjects." Poniewozik wrote that Oliver's debut was "a funny, confident start."[34]

The Entertainment Weekly review began by ringing the same changes: "The fear with Last Week Tonight is that it's The Daily Show except once a week — a staggered timeline that would rob the basic news-punning format of its intrinsic topical punch... The first episode of his HBO series didn't stray far from the [Jon] Stewart mothership, stylistically..." However, the reviewer, Darren Franich, liked that Oliver has "a half-hour of television that is simultaneously tighter and more ambitious, that the extra production time leads to sharper gags but also the ability to present more context" and thought that the debut had "plenty of funny throwaway lines." Franich appreciated Oliver's coverage of the 2014 India Election, which the American press was largely ignoring,[35] and, like Poniewozik, praised Oliver's "passion." Franich concluded that Last Week Tonight "suggested the sharpest possible version of its inspiration" and that it "should feel like an experiment" but "felt almost fully formed."[36]

The reviewer for Slate was ambivalent, writing that the show is "obviously a work in progress" and that one segment "felt like misplaced overkill," but also that it is "good use of a weekly show, and it was funny to boot."[37]

Gawker's Jordan Sargent claimed Last Week Tonight was "the new Daily Show",[38] while simultaneously criticizing the Daily Show for abandoning those "who have moved on from caring about Fox [News] and Republicans."

International reaction[edit]

A segment on Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott received widespread attention in Australia across the mainstream media and was trending on social media.[39][40][41]

According to a document obtained by Vice, the military government of Thailand listed Oliver as "undermining the royal institution" for calling Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn a "buffoon" and an "idiot".[42][43]

International broadcast[edit]

In Hungary, the show premiered on May 2, 2014 and airs at 8:00 pm (CET) on Fridays on HBO Comedy with subtitles and is also available on HBO GO.[44] It airs in Australia on The Comedy Channel, where it airs hours after the U.S. airing.[45] In the United Kingdom, it is broadcast on Tuesdays on the satellite-only channel Sky Atlantic.[46] In Brazil, it is shown days later on Wednesday on HBO Plus. In Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland the show is available on HBO's streaming service HBO Nordic. Episodes are available two days after the U.S. broadcast.[47] The show airs in New Zealand on SoHo.


  1. ^ "Dave Hill's band Valley Lodge did the theme for 'Last Week Tonight w/ John Oliver' (who crashed the FCC's website)". BrooklynVegan. June 3, 2014. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Patten, Dominic (February 12, 2014). "HBO Sets Name & Date For John Oliver Debut". (PMC). Archived from the original on February 14, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  3. ^ O'Connell, Michael (February 12, 2014). "John Oliver's HBO Series Gets Name, April Premiere". Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  4. ^ Guthrie, Marisa (16 April 2014). "John Oliver on the Luxurious 'Freedom' of HBO, His Complicated Relationship With NYC". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Zuckerman, Esther (May 1, 2014). "John Oliver: What I Read". The Wire. Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  6. ^ Sneed, Tierney (April 22, 2014). "Why Last Week Tonight Will Not Just Be The Daily Show on Sundays". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  7. ^ "'Last Week Tonight,' Two Days Later: John Oliver on His First Show, Dream Guests, and Old White Racists". Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  8. ^ ""Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" Will Return for Its Second Season on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015". November 11, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Bibel, Sara (April 29, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night, NBA Playoffs, 'Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'Mad Men', 'Devious Maids' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  10. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (May 6, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night, + 'Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'Married to Medicine', 'Silicon Valley' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  11. ^ Bibel, Sara (May 13, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night, NBA Playoffs, 'Silicon Valley', 'Bar Rescue', 'Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'Mad Men' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  12. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (May 20, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night + 'Silicon Valley', 'Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'River Monsters', 'Married to Medicine' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  13. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (June 3, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night + NHL Conference Finals, 'Real Housewives of Atlanta: Kandi's Wedding', 'Silicon Valley' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  14. ^ Bibel, Sara (June 10, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night, 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians', 'Devious Maids', 'Veep', 'Turn' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  15. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (June 17, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night + World Cup Soccer, 'Keeping up with the Kardashians', NASCAR & More". Zap2it. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  16. ^ Bibel, Sara (June 24, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: World Cup Soccer Wins Night, 'True Blood', 'The Last Ship', 'Falling Skies','Devious Maids', 'Penny Dreadful' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved June 28, 2014. 
  17. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (July 1, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'BET Awards' Leads Night + World Cup Soccer, 'True Blood', 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians', 'The Last Ship' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  18. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (July 15, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'True Blood' Tops Night + 'The Strain', 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians', 'The Last Ship' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  19. ^ Bibel, Sara (July 22, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'True Blood' Wins Night, 'The Last Ship', 'The Strain', 'Witches of East End', 'Ray Donovan' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved July 22, 2014. 
  20. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (July 29, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'True Blood' Leads Night + NASCAR, 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians', 'The Last Ship', 'The Strain' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  21. ^ Bibel, Sara (August 5, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'True Blood' Wins Night, 'The Strain', 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians', 'The Last Ship', 'The Leftovers', 'Falling Skies' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved August 6, 2014. 
  22. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (August 12, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine' Tops Night + 'True Blood', 'Air Jaws', NASCAR & More". Zap2it. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  23. ^ Bibel, Sara (August 19, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'True Blood' Wins Night, 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians', 'The Strain', 'The Last Ship', 'The Leftovers' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  24. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (September 16, 2014). "SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 25 Sunday Cable Originals (& Network Update) : 9.14.2014". ShowBuzzDaily. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  25. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (23 September 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Strain' Tops Night + 'Naked and Afraid', 'Boardwalk Empire', 'Real Housewives of New Jersey' + More". Zap2it. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  26. ^ Bibel, Sara (30 September 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Strain' & 'Real Housewives of New Jersey' Win Night, 'Boadwalk Empire', 'Ray Donovan', 'Total Divas', 'Wiches of East End' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  27. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (October 7, 2014). "SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 25 Sunday Cable Originals (& Network Update) : 10.5.2014". ShowBuzzDaily. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  28. ^ Campbell, Monica (September 11, 2014). "Here's how a military interpreter made it from danger in Afghanistan to safety in the US". Retrieved October 23, 2014. 
  29. ^ Davidson, Janine (October 23, 2014). "Why Is a Comedian the Only One Talking About the Plight of Afghan Interpreters?". Retrieved October 23, 2014. 
  30. ^ Bibel, Sara (October 28, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Walking Dead' Wins Night, 'Talking Dead', 'Boardwalk Empire', 'Real Housewives of New Jersey', 'Homeland' & More". Zap2it. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
  31. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (November 4, 2014). "SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 25 Sunday Cable Originals (& Network Update) : 11.2.2014". ShowBuzzDaily. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  32. ^ Bibel, Sara (November 11, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Walking Dead' Wins Night, 'Talking Dead', 'Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'Homeland', 'The Newsroom' & More". Zap2it. 
  33. ^ Stuever, Hank (April 28, 2014). "John Oliver's 'Last Week Tonight' on HBO sticks to a familiar formula". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  34. ^ Poniewozik, James (April 28, 2014). "REVIEW: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver". Time. Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  35. ^ Ayres, Alyssa (May 1, 2014). "Thanks, John Oliver! Why India Isn't a Big Focus for U.S. Television". Forbes. Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  36. ^ Franich, Darren (Apr 28, 2014). "'Last Week Tonight With John Oliver' review: The Weekly Show". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  37. ^ Haglund, David (April 2014). "Last Week Tonight: Like The Daily Show, With Unbleeped Swears!". Slate. Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  38. ^ Sargent, Jordan (May 6, 2014). "John Oliver's Last Week Tonight is the New Daily Show". Gawker. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Tony Abbott lambasted on US TV show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver hero". News Corp Australia. June 3, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2014. 
  40. ^ Ma Evelyn Castino Quilas (June 3, 2014). "Tony Abbott Mocked in U.S. News Program, Aussies Cringe on Twitter". International Business Times. Retrieved June 5, 2014. 
  41. ^ Nick Toscano (June 2, 2014). "Tony Abbott roasted by John Oliver on HBO show Last Week Tonight". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved June 5, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Thailand’s Military Government Thinks John Oliver Is a Threat to Its Monarchy". Vice. July 25, 2014. 
  43. ^ "Thai junta unamused by comedian John Oliver's royal jibes". The Guardian. 30 July 2014. 
  44. ^ winnie (April 13, 2014). "Hírvasárnap - 19-2 2. évad!!" (in Hungarian). Sorozatjunkie. Retrieved May 22, 2014. 
  45. ^ "Airdate: Last Week Tonight". TV Tonight. April 11, 2014. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  46. ^ "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver". Sky. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  47. ^ "Last Week Tonight on HBO Nordic". 

External links[edit]