FILE – In this Nov. 7, 2017 file photo, comedian John Oliver performs at the 11th Annual Stand Up for Heroes benefit in New York. Oliver’s show, which begins its fifth season on Sunday. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP, File)
HBO’s John Oliver so enjoyed the can to the trash AT&T’s mobile phone service he can’t imagine doing “Last Week Tonight,” on the basis of business constraints.
The network of the parent company, Time Warner, is waiting to see if a proposed acquisition by AT&T will be approved. Oliver’s show, which begins its fifth season on Sunday, is able to work with the freedom, in part because of HBO’s business is dependent on the subscribers instead of the advertiser, and he is quite used to it.
“We were drawing a line in the sand,” Oliver said on Monday, referring to an episode from last season that discussed corporate mergers, including Time Warner. “I do not expect that the ground beneath us is shifting, and if so, that is a problem. We will go down screaming.”
He said that he realizes that “Last Week Tonight” is fortunate to have the opportunity to do the long, journalism-style explorations of the problems and the jokes that he gets to do along the way.
“To suggest that this product (bad) and it tastes terrible, it is really great to have that kind of freedom,” he said. “It’s addictive.”
In addition to some topical jokes, the center is a long exploration of a problem in the week. Oliver deals with subjects that would seem to be tv-friendly, like net neutrality or the financing of health care and the education of an audience while having lots of laughs along the way.
He is reluctant to talk about themes that the show will cover during a new season, both to preserve the element of surprise and because they are probably not really tasty.
“If we say to people, ‘look, we’re going to talk about Sinclair Broadcasting,’ you’ll think ‘well, that’s a half hour extra of sleep I have,” he said.
The show constantly has to weigh how much of the day-to-day actions of the Trumpet administration to address, both because he doesn’t want to change his formula, and because many of the topics will be picked clean by the daily topical comedy shows. The news, and the humour pulled, moves so quickly that programs like the “Late Show” was to go live after Trump’s State of the Union address, because the jokes seem to have expired 24 hours later, he said.
But there are some topics — such as Trump comments on the demonstrations in Charlotteville, Virginia, where not talking about it would be as an editorial decision, ” he said.
Despite the start of his fifth season, Oliver said that the show still feels new. He is assumed to be two-and-a HBO executive, is sitting near him at a press conference indicated the network would like to see more.
“I still feel there is much room to be better,” Oliver said. “I don’t feel that we are at cruising altitude yet.”
Oliver drew the attention during the show in the pause for a panel discussion with Dustin Hoffman in December that led to an uncomfortable discussion about women who have sexual misconduct accusations against him. Hoffman is entitled to expect that he would be questioned about, Oliver said.
“The first person that he spoke (in public) was going to ask him questions about it,” Oliver said. “Unfortunately, that was me.”
The discussion was largely because his answers were pretty bad,” Oliver said.
“I wanted to try and get him to a point of self-reflection and to try to make something of the conversation, but that has not happened,” he said.