Top 10 Best John Oliver Running Gags



Top 10 Best John Oliver Running Gags

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" has a ton of great running gags that have made the show more popular. For this list, we'll be looking at the best running jokes on the popular and informative comedy news show. Our countdown includes the Adam Driver obsession, Weird Mascots, "How Is This Still A Thing?" and more!
John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" has a ton of great running gags that have made the show more popular. For this list, we’ll be looking at the best running jokes on the popular and informative comedy news show. Our countdown includes the Adam Driver obsession, Weird Mascots, "How Is This Still A Thing?" and more! What’s your favorite John Oliver gag? Let us know in the comments!

#10: Danbury, Connecticut

One of the best things about John Oliver is how far he’ll go for a joke, no matter how weird it is. In one episode, Oliver singled out the city of Danbury, Connecticut in a humorous but harsh manner. The city’s Mayor Mark Boughton later suggested that the city's sewage plant should be named in Oliver's dishonor. Not one to squander a chance for publicity, Oliver offered sizable donations to local charities on the condition that the mayor follow up on his word. This led to a ribbon cutting ceremony for the John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant. Seeing the comedian himself there for the official opening showed how far he’d go for a great punchline.

#9: “How Is This Still a Thing?”

Some things are just so taken for granted that we might not stop to think how weird they really are. This “Last Week Tonight” segment breaks down traditions like Columbus Day and Daylight Saving Time and how they arguably do more harm than good. Like the show itself, this segment manages to be both humorous and informative by condensing a complex topic to a few minutes. It also helps us to understand where some of these problematic traditions started and how we can move past them. We’re glad that “How Is This Still a Thing?” is still a thing.

#8: “Business Daddy”

In 2016, telecommunications giant AT&T purchased WarnerMedia, then known as “Time Warner,” and HBO along with it. Oliver immediately showed the utmost respect to his new parent company…by creating an entirely new gag. This $85 billion acquisition proved priceless for Oliver in terms of comedic potential. Referring to AT&T as “business daddy,” Oliver has continually found time to rib the company for its less than reliable service. He doesn’t just stop at dropped calls or slow internet, however. Oliver has also called out AT&T for actions he sees as immoral. Even if the higher-ups don’t take his critiques to heart, it’s good to see someone with such a large platform calling out a big company.

#7: Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption

A notable episode saw Oliver take a closer look at how certain televangelists acquired their sizable fortunes. He pointed out that they reaped huge profits without taxation because they were part of religious organizations. To further prove his point, Oliver started his own church and pointedly named it “Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption.” ​​But this wasn't the turning point where the host fully converted from a comedian to a full time holy man. Instead, Oliver harnessed the power of the church for several great bits. And any donations that the church received were handed out to Doctors Without Borders. It’s fantastic to see Oliver use an exemption to do some real good in the world.

#6: Summoning George Clooney

John Oliver has a number of famous friends. And fortunately for us, he called upon them to pull off some excellent comedic material. In one running gag, Oliver’s able to snap his fingers and summon George Clooney. The famous actor is quick to scold Oliver for using this apparent power irresponsibly. When Oliver snaps his fingers without thinking on future occasions, Clooney only grows more perturbed. But despite his annoyance, the movie star eventually shows a softer side and briefly gives Oliver the power to reach more celebrities with a snap. We hope the host continues to snap to bring more surprising famous faces to the show.

#5: Lost Graphics

Since the set is fairly straightforward, Oliver often uses funny graphics throughout the show to emphasize his points. His team is great at mocking up ridiculous images that are funny on their own but also relate to a wider issue in their own absurd way. Noteworthy graphics that didn’t make the cut get a chance to shine in a recurring web-only segment. The best thing about them is that they’re presented out of context. Images like Kid Rock driving a monster truck into a Dairy Queen and a chicken with a “Rachel” haircut known as “Hennifer Aniston” are just stunning. We personally can’t think of a better use of a graphic design degree.

#4: "A Country You Think About So Little..."

When Oliver brings up countries or regions that most of his viewers likely ignore completely, he’ll point out their ignorance by springing those seven words on them. He’ll then reveal that the graphic he’s used for the country is actually a different one. It’s actually astounding how many times Oliver has managed to fool us with this gag. Every time he hits us with this simple setup, we’re reminded about our lack of geographic knowledge. While this segment hasn’t made us any more eager to study a globe, it has definitely made us laugh.

#3: Adam Driver Obsession

There are many reasons we love Adam Driver. He’s an incredible actor, very humble, and yeah, we have to admit he’s pretty handsome. But John Oliver really, really focuses on this performer’s looks. On numerous occasions, the host has shoehorned in references to Driver’s attractiveness. Oliver will often comment on the actor’s physique and make explicit requests. (Collapse on my chest…) His thirsting didn’t go unnoticed by Driver. Eventually, the actor made a cameo and confronted Oliver about his creepy comments. He then delivered his own startling accurate description of the host. According to Oliver, this started off as an intended one-time joke that kept going. We’re glad it built up to such an electrifying and hilarious confrontation.

#2: Janice in Accounting

You know that one coworker who you can’t stand whose every action validates why you dislike them? If so, you’ll relate to Oliver’s complaints about “Janice in accounting.” This bit sees the host express a topic off the laundry list of petty grievances he has against his terrible coworker. Janice’s many sins include stealing food from the break room, giving bad Secret Santa gifts, and …claiming island territories for herself? This bit is great for how relatable it is to anyone who’s ever had annoying coworkers. And if you don’t see what the big deal with some of these actions are, then you might be the office Janice yourself.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Wax Presidents

What Better Way to Honor These Important Leaders?


A Simple & Perfect Way to Throw Shade


Oliver Became Obsessed With These Now Dearly Departed Space Geckos

Blockbuster & Russell Crowe's Jockstrap

Are You Not Entertained as We Are by This Segment Series?

“We Got Him!”

Despite Oliver’s Excitement, They Never Actually Got “Him”

#1: Weird Mascots

It sometimes seems like John Oliver’s goal with “Last Week Tonight” is not to spread awareness about important issues. Instead, he’s just doing the show so he can put the strangest mascots in existence on tv. Oliver’s made time to highlight original and wacky creature creations. Among this motley crew are the Hoots the NSA Owl and Jeff the Diseased Lung in a Cowboy Hat. He also spent airtime focusing on Chiitan, an otter that represents the town of Susaki, Japan. You might not see any of Oliver’s mascots at your local sporting events anytime soon. Fortunately, they’re all around to help make “Last Week Tonight” a consistently memorable viewing experience.