Going to attend Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Promotional photo by HBO for the new season of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Photo courtesy of HBO

Yesterday, 09 April 2019, I won an auction for a meet & greet and 2 VIP tickets to a taping of HBO’s news satire television series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The comedy series, one of my favorite shows and a winner of several Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Variety Talk Series, is currently airing its 6th season on TV. I’ve been a fan since its debut in 2014, but my interest rose alongside its general popularity after the show’s season 3 segment debunking the falsely-perceived ‘honest, successful, dealmaking businessman’ story of Donald Trump. (Linked is a YouTube video from the official Last Week Tonight account with the famous Trump segment).

(An explanation of the show is on the bottom of this post.)

Getting tickets to a taping of the show can normally be done here. Tickets are free; however, you won’t exactly be having an easy time getting them. Once they open up availability, tickets are given through a lottery system. And if you have managed to attend the show once, you aren’t allowed to return for the next four years. This is, as they themselves describe, due to “such a high demand for tickets that we need to clear a backlog of thousands of fans who have not had the chance to see the show live”. Good luck!

I’m bringing my mother with me to the show, as she also enjoys the series. By winning the auction, we get the ability to sit in a VIP waiting room prior to the show taping, we get to take a photo, get a small item signed, sit in priority seating, and meet & greet John Oliver himself for a few moments in a social setting after the filming of the show.

I eagerly await every new episode to see what topic Oliver and his team of writers will cover. I haven’t been to a filming of the show before, so this experience will be all new! I will write a new post once I know more about the timeframe for the experience, and I will also write a post after attending the show to detail the experience. Super excited!

Quick note: I don’t have comments enabled on this blog, but you can use the “Contact” page to send me an email if you have any questions about the show or this post.


Last Week Tonight with John Oliver features British comedian John Oliver, formerly a Daily Show correspondent, sitting at a desk, against a photo backdrop of world monuments, making jokes about the current state of the world, as a live audience (no laugh tracks here!) reacts.

Each episode begins with “A quick recap of the week”, in which the comedian takes on both national U.S. news and international headlines and brings a comedic spin to every story. After a few minutes, he says “And now, this…”, and the audience gets a few moments away from Oliver as his comedy team have put together a funny montage. That montage is pretty open in its ways, featuring anything from “Local news is concerned about teens” (with footage of news reporters describing new teen trends with a slight horror in their voice) and “60 Minutes anchors prompt people to deliver the exact soundbite they need” (where footage of various 60 Minutes interviews are shown, where the anchors deliberately say a phrase in a way that causes the subject to repeat it exactly).

Afterwards, the show returns to Oliver, who then introduces the main story of the night. That story is a deep-dive, aggressively-researched look into a topic. Through the next 20-minutes-or-so, Oliver debunks myths, exposes false information, highlights the facts, and simplifies complicated subject matter. After 30 minutes, he ends the show. At that point, the audience, which may have started with zero or limited knowledge of said topic, will end up with a thorough understanding of the subject and, hopefully, having had lots of laughs.

That’s right. I said “laughs”. Because one pretty major thing that separates Last Week Tonight from your daily evening news show is that John Oliver, throughout each half-hour show, uses comedy to make his points. Extensively. If there’s a joke to be made somewhere, they won’t miss the chance. In fact, as journalists actively credit the show for being “journalism” due to the writers’ in-depth research, Oliver has said that “It’s comedy. It’s comedy first, and it’s comedy second.” Evidence does go in favor of the people crediting the show for its journalistic integrity, though, as the show has had a notable impact on policy, being dubbed the “John Oliver effect“.

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