They’re not among the show’s most popular YouTube videos, eclipsed by lip-syncing competitions and anachronistic barbershop quintets, but The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon does occasionally post some fascinating “web exclusive” clips, featuring more intimate, informal interviews with comedians and actors telling embarrassing stories about their careers. It’s a great opportunity to hear Fallon’s guests actually get to speak their minds for a few minutes, minus all that giggling. A web series called “The Worst I Ever Bombed” has featured humbling anecdotes from comics like Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, and Hannibal Buress. All of these pros know the sting of bombing in front of a live audience. “Bombed” has its own spin-off of sorts called “My Worst Audition Ever,” featuring horror stories from Tina Fey and Alan Cumming, among others.
One comedian self-deprecating enough to be featured in both “The Worst I Ever Bombed” and “My Worst Audition Ever” is Last Week Tonight host John Oliver. The Community veteran is no stranger to public disgrace, it turns out, but the “Audition” story proves him to be an excellent raconteur. Admitting that he has very little range as an actor and thus rarely goes out on auditions, Oliver says he nevertheless tried to land a speaking role in a deodorant commercial back when he lived in England. The tryout, Oliver reports, came to a crashing halt when he had to remove his shirt and show the casting agents his underwhelming upper body. After that, he was not even allowed to attempt a line reading. “It’s a pretty humiliating way to put a shirt back on,” Oliver says. “It came off quick. It went back on slow.” But no one makes disappointment and rejection sing quite like John Oliver.