John Oliver’s HBO show “Last Week Tonight” returns to HBO on Sunday, but he has been surprisingly okay with staying off the air for almost three months.
“Until Inauguration Day nothing was really happening,” Oliver told Stephen Colbert during an appearance on “The Late Show” Tuesday. “It was just being tied to a train track, watching the train coming. And then of course Inauguration Day is the train hitting you and you thinking, yep that felt pretty much how I thought it was going to feel.”
“Last Week Tonight” has been on hiatus since November, when Oliver railed against the election of President Trump and lit a visual representation of 2016 on fire. In the meantime, his fellow late-night comedians have kept close watch on Trump’s first days in office — skewering his inauguration ceremony and a slew of executive orders, including a controversial immigration ban on refugees and immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries.
On “Late Night,” Oliver said that Inauguration Day “felt like 114 years ago.”
“We have a long way to go. It’s gonna be hard. It’s easy to be angry on adrenaline, but it is much, much harder when you’re tired. And this is going to be exhausting,” he said.
Colbert showed his audience a copy of the current issue of Rolling Stone, which depicts a frustrated Oliver on the cover. He then pulled out a copy of Time bearing the face of White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon. “Does this fill you with any feelings?” Colbert asked. The audience booed. “Okay, it’s not wrestling,” Oliver joked.
Colbert reminded him that Bannon’s boss (as in, Trump) is in the WWE Hall of Fame. “Is he? You’re right. Why wouldn’t he be?” Oliver said.
As for Bannon, Oliver called him “a terrifying individual.” He added that he was particularly disheartened by the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as education secretary.
“I actually think she might and should serve as an inspiration to school kids in America because she shows that they could be secretary of education one day. In fact, not just one day — now,” he joked. “They could do it now. They’re about as well qualified now as she is. They’ve spent arguably longer in a public school.”
Colbert also asked Oliver whether he was scared about being deported to his native England. Oliver has a green card, but is not an American citizen. “The crazy thing is it’s probably not gonna happen, but there is a nonzero chance of it happening now. So yeah, I am slightly concerned.”
“Having a green card used to be enough,” he continued. “And yet what we saw with that executive order on immigration, that debacle, things are not what they’re supposed to be. We held up translators — Afghan and Iraqi translators — at the border who have bled for a country they’ve never visited, have sacrificed family members for this country. This president has done neither of these things, so it’s a little hard to swallow him telling people whether they should be a benefit to America or not.”
Though Oliver clearly has a lot to say about Trump’s first few weeks in office, he has also said that he isn’t going to devote all of “Last Week Tonight” to the president.
“It’s a lot of people feeding on the same carcass,” he told the New York Times in an interview this week. “We try to pick a different carcass because of how many different beaks have already gotten to it.”