John Oliver

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There is hope for the world. And it is in the form of Wikipedia.

John William Oliver (born 23 April 1977) is a British comedian, political satirist and actor. He is most famous in America for his work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the satirical comedy podcast The Bugle. Having left The Daily Show at the end of 2013, Oliver became the host of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO on Sunday, 27 April 2014.


Wikipedia is such a vital resource. It's a way of us completely rewriting our history to give our children and our children's children a much better history to grow up with. We seem to have no intention of providing them with a future.
  • The deeper you look into these stories, the more flawed you realize things are, systemically. But the more you encounter people work incredibly hard to change things. Like clockwork, at some point during a story, I go into Tim [Carvell]'s office, who I... run the show with, and we'll say "Burn it down. Just burn everything to the ground." 'Cause it feels like things are so bad in a story, only flames are going to purify the hell that we've built for ourselves. But you do then work through that, much like this shitty hot sauce, to realizing that, in lieu of-— even as you're waiting for major change that you think might not come, incremental change is possible, and valuable.

John Oliver: Terrifying Times (2008)[edit]

  • Many people would argue that the most dangerous inhabitant of the earth is currently the self styled 43rd president of the United States. Not so much in deed anymore as in word. Because to hear that man speak is to wish upon yourself physical harm.
  • I started looking into these groups in America, campaigns groups who want to put stickers on the front of all school science text books saying that Evolution is only one possible theory of life on earth. Now, although this seems like a stupid idea at first, second, and thirty ninth glance, look at it once more. Give it that fortieth view. Because it's brilliant. Let's have stickers on the front of all books! Slap one on the front of the Bible saying "Of course this could all be bullsh*t. Maybe he never died! Perhaps he opened a donkey sanctuary. He had a clear bond with donkeys." Or slap one on the Theory of Gravity! "Look, that's just one man's opinion. Maybe we could all fly! R. Kelly believed it so. Why would he lie to us? What does he possibly stand to gain?"
  • But if you think it's going to get any better, let me burst that bubble of optimism now because I was fortunate enough last year to be invited to the First Republican Presidential Candidate Debate in Simi Valley in California, which, interestingly, was exactly as much fun as it sounds. But it was, obviously a privilege to be there and I did get to witness one incredible moment of political theater when all, at that point, ten of the potential leaders of the free world were asked the same question. And that question was "Who here doesn't believe in evolution?" And three of those men raised their hands. And then none of those three men put their hands down and said "Only joking." And their confidence was seductive!
  • You might look at the Oreo Pizza and think, "That is a reprehensible foodstuff". I put it to you that that is the single most patriotic item I have ever seen in my life! Hoist that up a flagpole! ... Because that is the biggest imaginable "fuck you" you could possibly issue to terrorists. By hoisting the Oreo Pizza up a flagpole, what you're essentially saying is, "There is nothing you can do to us, we are not already doing to ourselves".
  • The world's become so horrifying now. It's too easy to become cynical about things and that's not fair and it doesn't work. And in fact, there is hope for the world. And it is in the form of Wikipedia. Now, Wikipedia will save us all. I found this out when recently a friend of mine emailed me and he said that someone had created a Wikipedia entry about me. I didn't realize this was true, so I looked it up. And like most Wikipedia entries, it came with some flamboyant surprises, not least amongst them my name. Because in it it said my name was John Cornelius Oliver. Now my middle name is not Cornelius because I did not die in 1752. But obviously, I want it to be. Cornelius is an incredible name. And that's when it hit me — the way the world is now, fiction has become more attractive than fact. That is why Wikipedia is such a vital resource. It's a way of us completely rewriting our history to give our children and our children's children a much better history to grow up with. We seem to have no intention of providing them with a future. Let's at least give them a past. It is in a very real sense the least we can do.

Interview with The Rolling Stone (2013)[edit]

  • Jon called me and asked, "Would you like to host the show?" My first reaction was, "Yeah, sure. Whatever you want. No problem." It was only on hanging up that my knees started to buckle. I was like, "Holy shit! What did I just agree to? I'm about to destroy the most beloved show on American television."
  • You’re not supposed to see your country’s most famous author in the audience watching you. You’re supposed to look down at that point and realize that you’re naked and then wake up.
  • I’ve made so many people angry that they kind of blur into one unpleasant memory of people staring at you with somewhere between passive aggression and active aggression.

Last Week Tonight (2014–present)[edit]

You've just constructed a straw man so large you could burn it in the desert and hold an annoying festival around it.
  • Welcome to Last Week Tonight! I am John Oliver and welcome, welcome... welcome to whatever this is.
  • The cable companies have figured out the great truth of America: If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring. Apple could put the entire text of "Mein Kampf" inside the iTunes user agreement, and you'd just go, "Uh, agree, agree, agr-- what? Agree, agree."
  • John Oliver: You've stated that you believe there could be an infinite number of parallel universes. Does that mean that there is a universe out there where I am smarter than you?
    Stephen Hawking: Yes. And also a universe where you're funny.
  • Please, make sure your college years are the best ones of your life because, thanks to the debt that we are saddling you with, they almost certainly will be.
  • Drug companies are a bit like high school boyfriends; they're much more concerned with getting inside you than being effective once they're in there.
    • After quoting a BBC report claiming that most "Big Pharma" companies spend more money on marketing than research and development.
    • Last Week Tonight -- "Marketing to Doctors" (ff. 0:02:20) (8 Feb 2015)
  • As far as I can see, this is a system that has enriched multiple companies and that pays and fires teachers with a cattle birthing formula, confuses children with talking pineapples, and has the same kind of rules regarding transparency as Brad Pitt had for Fight Club.
  • For the record if someone did that to me I'd hitch a ride to the International Space Station straight away; of course who am I kidding, they would never let me in, I've got spiders for hands! The internet is mean!
  • In science, you don't just get to cherry-pick the parts that justify what you were going to do anyway! That's religion! You're thinking of religion.
    • In response to Al Roker's advice to "find the study that sounds best to you".
    • Last Week Tonight -- "Scientific Studies" (ff. 0:14:44), (8 May 2016)
  • He is truly one of the most revolting humans (minions) I have ever seen. In a way, there is no more fitting spokesman for the Trump administration than an entitled, elitist arsehole who refuses to take responsibility for the messes he makes, and who can somehow pick a fight with the Statue of Liberty.
  • Oh, why do I love Salisbury? It's simple. The population is 40,302. And their member of parliament is John Glen, a Conservative whose eight-year tenure has been widely viewed as a failure. (open brackets: "citation needed", closed brackets.)
    • After he talks about how Sergey Skripal poisoning suspects' statement sounds like they're reading from Salisbury's Wikipedia page.
    • Last Week Tonight -- "Saudi Arabia" (ff. 0:02:43) (15 October 2018)
  • Please, buy [Last Week Tonight Presents: A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo] for your children, buy it for any child you know, or just buy it because you know it would annoy Mike Pence. You'd be doing a nice thing in a really dickish way, and isn't that the dream at the end of the day?
    • Last Week Tonight -- "Mike Pence" (ff. 0:19:24) (19 March 2018)
  • Calling slave labor "chores" is a euphemism on par with calling Hitler a "best-selling author with a side hustle" or JFK's assassination a "bad hair day" or this a comedy show.
    • Last Week Tonight -- "U.S. History" (ff. 0:09:36) (2 August 2020)
  • And look, do I think it’s bad if Disney pays more taxes? No, I don’t. That would be a good thing. I don’t love that it might happen not through meaningful tax reform but on the whim of one right-wing dipshit who’s scared of gay people and doesn’t understand the First Amendment. But hey: Ends, means, what are you gonna do?
  • Hope and joy are crucial here; they are the fuel that powers the ongoing fight for equality. And while there is a lot of fear and uncertainty right now, it is worth remembering that progress -- while not always linear -- is always possible.
  • There is a natural human impulse to protect children, to grab a toddler you don't know if you see them running into traffic, and if that impulse is broken or disincentivized by a government, there is absolutely a humanitarian crisis, no matter what any asshole has to say about it.
  • It has to be possible to feel the pain in one community without denying it in another. It has to be! That is perhaps the most necessary precondition for peace because real peace here will clearly be difficult! It's gonna be struggled toward as part of a larger pursuit of justice which will, in turn, require an honest and uncomfortable reckoning with all the decisions that brought us to this point.
  • You can see how baiting customers with one price and then switching it for another might be considered a bait-and-switch! There's actually a great Econ book on the subject entitled "Words Mean What Words Mean"!
    • Last Week Tonight -- "Elon Musk" (ff. 0:09:58) (17 December 2023)
  • Wait, he "loves drama"?! I'm sorry, I'm really not that comfortable with one of the most powerful people on Earth being summed up the same way you describe Andy Coen on New Year's Eve!
    • Last Week Tonight -- "Elon Musk" (ff. 0:28:35) (17 December 2023)
  • From the beginning, America -- like most countries -- was built on polite fictions by men who could somehow hold in their heads the idea that all men were created equal at the exact same time that they were drawing up the three-fifths compromise.
  • We have spoken to experts who have all told us that, best they can tell, this is somehow legal. Which seems crazy to me, 'cause it really feels like it shouldn't be.
  • Whenever they don't want to talk about something, it's probably worth you knowing about it.
    • Last Week Tonight (25 February 2024)
  • If your friend told you to download an app and you saw it in the App Store with good reviews, you might assume that everything on it was legitimate even before you saw MetaTrader's logo, which looks like three men in suits jerking each other off under a table -- an appropriate metaphor for cryptocurrency if I have ever seen one.
  • If you're funny enough, you can make people forget a lot of things, whether it's common-sense internet safeguards, lessons from previous relationships, or that they've been accidentally learning about financial fraud and human trafficking for the last twenty minutes. We're having fun, aren't we?
  • One project leader in the 80s and early 90s is remembered for saying "No secrets" and "The only thing that will make me rip off your head and shit down your neck is withholding information." And I'm sorry, but that should be the mug.
    • Last Week Tonight -- "Boeing" (ff. 0:06:07) (3 March 2024)
  • I'm curious, is it a rule that, to be in Congress, you have to be one of the weirdest motherfuckers to ever live?
    • Last Week Tonight, in response to Nancy Pelosi's "Tic, tac, toe, a winner" comment on the House floor (17 March 2024)
  • I'm not saying college is the right choice for everyone -- but it should be a choice.
    • Last Week Tonight -- "Student Loans" (ff. 0:29:22) (17 March 2024)
  • I know I've spend a lot of time over the last ten years reassuring everyone that this show does comedy and not journalism, but I think we can all agree that the most important thing we do here is stir shit up.
    • Last Week Tonight -- "Executions" (ff. 0:11:55) (7 April 2024)
  • The fact is, no matter how executions are performed, they'll never be humane. No matter how many times you call them "textbook" or claim it's "much better than anything they did to the victims", or show people viral videos of dizzy tweens on helium, it's never gonna be okay, and we are kidding ourselves if we think taking someone's life actually lowers the number of killers in the world; it literally, definitionally, creates more.
    • Last Week Tonight -- "Executions" (ff. 0:26:29) (7 April 2024)
  • Manchin's argument speaks to what can be so dispiriting about our current politics, because while there is nothing fundamentally wrong with civility and compromise, it does depend on who you're being civil to and what you're compromising with. 'Cause remember, this is the moment when one of the loudest voices in the senate campaign against Mangi is also happily encouraging people to "take things into their own hands" when it comes to those they don't agree with. And it's pretty scary to think that, in the name of building bridges, some appear to be perfectly fine finding a middle ground with those willing to throw protestors off them.
    • Last Week Tonight (21 April 2024)
  • While you can believe aliens exist or not, when it comes to UFOs, belief doesn't really come into it; whatever they are, people are seeing them. That poster in Mulder's office shouldn't have said "I Want To Believe", it should've said "Believe, Smelieve, What The Fuck Is That Thing?"
    • Last Week Tonight -- "UFOs" (ff. 0:04:42) (21 April 2024)
  • "There's something out there that's better than our airplane." It is chilling to hear that from a Navy pilot and not the usual place: the Executive Boardroom at Boeing.
    • Last Week Tonight -- "UFOs" (ff. 0:21:00) (21 April 2024)
  • When New Jersey sends us mayors, they're clearly not sending their best.
    • Last Week Tonight -- Campus Protests
  • Everyone who's ever been to a protest has, at some point, seen a sign and thought to themselves "Shit, not sure about that one. I'm here for abortion rights; do we really need to bring 9/11 into this"?
    • Last Week Tonight -- Campus Protests
  • Student protests against injustice generally age pretty well, and the efforts to criticize or crack down on them tend not to.
    • Last Week Tonight -- Campus Protests
  • You know God! The freak known for building a nude garden He could watch all day. The guy who commissioned the construction of an all-animal fuck boat, and who sat back and watched while His own son got nailed. Oh, I'm sorry! Am I misunderstanding the Bible by taking things out of context? Forgive me, I haven't read it. I looked at the summary; it told me all I needed to know.
    • Last Week Tonight -- "Public Libraries"
  • I know it is not shocking that an episode of this show would advocate to support your local libraries; it's pretty much implicit in our whole vibe. My suit, glasses, and desk all practically scream "support your local libraries" to which the rest of my body would say out of respect, "Shh!"
    • Last Week Tonight -- "Public Libraries"

About Oliver[edit]

  • On the 6th May 2011 episode of The Bugle John created the phrase "fuckyoulogy", an obituary for someone recently deceased who most certainly will not be missed.
  • Here's a guy who likes to take boring topics and make them interesting. If you can do that for an administrative process like the FCC on net neutrality, imagine the level of interest in issues people are even more familiar with at the state level.
  • The knowing know that police reform, that abortion rights, that labor unions are important, but go no further: What is important, after all, is to signal that you know these things. What is important is to launch links and mockery at those who don't. The Good Facts are enough: Anybody who fails to capitulate to them is part of the Problem, is terminally uncool. No persuasion, only retweets. Eye roll, crying emoji, forward to John Oliver for sick burns.
  • When John Oliver told viewers that if they opposed abortion they had to change the channel until the last minute of the program, when they would be shown “an adorable bucket of sloths,” he perfectly encapsulated the tone of these shows: one imbued with the conviction that they and their fans are intellectually and morally superior to those who espouse any of the beliefs of the political right. Two days before the election, every talking head on television was assuring us that Trump didn’t have a chance, because he lacked a “ground game.” After his victory, one had to wonder whether some part of his ground game had been conducted night after night after night on television, under flattering studio lights and with excellent production values and comedy writing.
  • For years, Oliver has criticized the estate tax, which opponents, in a smart linguistic move dreamed up by Frank Luntz, long ago labeled the “death tax”; and the tax code’s raft of loopholes that benefit special interests he identified as oil companies and hedge fund managers. Oliver even briefly established the bogus Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption to draw attention to tax-exempt status granted to churches and charities.
    Back in July 2014, in an episode in which he lamented the "Wealth Gap in America” (which has resulted in the richest one percent of Americans controlling 20 percent of annual income), Oliver said, “At this point the rich are just running up the score…What sets America apart is that we are actively introducing policies that disproportionately benefit the wealthy,” such as tax cuts and loopholes like trusts.
    So it’s a little surprising to discover that just months before, Oliver had a tax attorney set up two revocable trusts, one for him and one for his wife, to hide the couple’s purchase of a $9.5 million Manhattan penthouse. Then he used a tax loophole created by Donald Trump himself back in the 1970s, when the current president was merely a prominent New York real estate developer and aspiring celebrity author.
  • No one takes more glee in dumping their shit on middle America than John Oliver. [...] If he delivered the exact same words sounding as if he went to school with Miley Cyrus, no one would take him seriously.
    • Derek Hunter, Outrage, Inc.: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood (Harper/Broadside 2018) p. 55
  • There is no "fact-checking" of John Oliver, Beyonce or Kim Kardashian. They're entertainers, not politicians or journalists.
    • Derek Hunter, Outrage, Inc.: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood (Harper/Broadside 2018) p. 55

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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