Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Stephen Colbert shocks John Oliver with the big reveal of Oliver's inner Muppet

Stephen Colbert, John Oliver
Stephen Colbert, John Oliver
Screenshot: The Late Show

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver returns for its eighth season on HBO this Sunday, and Oliver told Stephen Colbert that it’s the perfect Valentine’s Day night in—for certain people. “I would recommend it for a last date,” Oliver told Colbert, explaining, “I don’t think there is a cleaner way out of a relationship than saying, ‘Let’s sit down and enjoy the romantic stylings of Last Week Tonight.’” And, sure, maybe your particular partner won’t be in the mood after seeing Oliver comically eviscerate the clear and ongoing symbiotic relationship between violent white supremacists and the Republican Party or how your very visage is being sold to shady organizations from the CIA to Walmart. But, hey, maybe they are—we don’t know your life.

Still, as Oliver conceded to Colbert on Tuesday’s Late Show, Last Week Tonight isn’t everyone’s cup of naturalized British tea. “If you really hated it,” said Oliver of his multiple award-winning series’ seven previous seasons, “Honestly, I wouldn’t give it a second chance.” Some bold reverse-psychological marketing there from Oliver, but, hey, it’s probably easier when you’ve got a closet full of Emmys and your show just got renewed for at least three more seasons. Former Daily Show chums Colbert and Oliver did touch on some of the most pressing issues of the day, without Oliver spoiling what his first main story of 2021 will be. Sure, it’s probably going to be the second impeachment of Oliver’s least favorite former president ever, whose mix of incompetence and ridiculousness Oliver summed up (when discussing the disastrous open statement on the procedural first steps from Trump attorneys yesterday) thusly: “Something that’s supposed to be nothing is made very much something.”

The duo touched on some ancillary goings-on, from the hard-to-fathom fact that Oliver is the same age as seemingly immortal Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, to a comparison of the Super Bowl and his Premier League Championship (Oliver gives the edge to the Brits’ version of football, unsurprisingly, although he did admit that the American game time snack game is monstrously superior), and the fact that his HBO business daddies will never, ever find out just how much Last Week Tonight spends on mascot costumes each year. Still, though, with a hard-hitting news-entertainment figure like John Oliver in the house, Colbert got down to brass tacks eventually, finally answering the burning question: What Muppet would John Oliver be if John Oliver were, indeed, a Muppet? For noted Muppet fan Oliver, naturally he’s given the matter a lot of thought, preferring Rowlf (effortlessly cool and his own musical punchline delivery system), Gonzo (never trust anyone who doesn’t love Gonzo), or, intriguingly, the Swedish Chef. (Maybe it’s that, as Oliver revealed, that the Chef is the only Muppet with human hands.)

When the “peer-reviewed” results of the Buzzfeed quiz came in, Oliver was frankly shocked. Even as Colbert read off the laudable qualities cited by the quiz’s reasoning (courageous, driven, charming, willing to throw down for a principle), Oliver was stunned, if his response “You’re fucking kidding me” is any indication. And while he was willing to accept that the unexpected comparison was a compliment, Oliver did have to demur, noting, “I do not have the sexual confidence of a [redacted.]” At least he’s not Scooter. Watch the clip to judge for yourself, and watch the Season 8 premiere of Last Week Tonight this Sunday on HBO.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.