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John Oliver loves being able to do a show without restrictions

HBO's John Oliver is so happy being able to trash AT&T's cell phone service he can't envision doing "Last Week Tonight" under corporate limitations.

 

His community's corporate parent, Time Warner, is currently waiting to see if a takeover by AT&T will be approved. Oliver's show, which starts its fifth year on Sunday, has been able to operate with liberty in part because HBO's company depends on readers rather than advertiser, and he has become quite accustomed to it.

 

"We had been drawing a line in the sand," Oliver said on Monday, referring to an episode last season that spoke corporate mergers, including Time Warner's. "I do not anticipate the ground underneath us changing and if it does, that is likely to be an issue. We'll go down crying."

 

He said he understands that "Last Week Tonight" is blessed to have the ability to perform the lengthy, journalism-style explorations of issues and the jokes that it gets to do along the way.

 

"Being in a position to point out that this product is (bad) which tastes terrible, it is really great to have that kind of freedom," he said. "It is addictive."

 

Besides some jokes, the show's centrepiece is one exploration of an issue every week. Oliver tackles subjects that could look television-unfriendly, such as net neutrality or health care financing, and teaching an audience while having some laughs on the way.

 

He is reluctant to talk about some topics that the show will cover through a new year, both to preserve the element of surprise and since they likely would not sound appetizing.

 

"If we say to folks, 'look, we are going to talk about Sinclair Broadcasting,' you'll think 'great, that is a half-hour extra sleep I'll have,''' he explained.

 

The show constantly has to weigh just how much of their daily actions of the Trump administration to address, both because he does not wish to change its formula, and since many topics are picked clean by daily topical comedy shows. News, along with the humour pulled from it, moves so quickly that programs like the "Late Show" needed to go after Trump's State of the Union speech since the jokes would appear stale 24 hours afterwards, he said.

 

But there are some topics -- like when Trump commented upon the demonstrations in Charlotteville, Virginia -- where not talking about it could be like an editorial conclusion in itself, '' he explained.

 

Despite beginning its fifth year, Oliver said the show still feels fresh. He's contracted to do two more and an HBO executive sitting at a news conference signalled the network would like more.

 

"I feel there's a lot of room to get much better," Oliver explained. "I don't feel like we are at cruising altitude yet."

 

Oliver attracted attention throughout the show's hiatus to be on a panel discussion together with Dustin Hoffman at December that sparked an uncomfortable discussion about girls who had made sexual misconduct allegations against him. Hoffman should have been anticipating he would be contested, Oliver explained.

 

 

"The first person he spoke to (publicly) will have to ask him questions about it," Oliver explained. "Regrettably, that was me"

 

The conversation lasted largely because his answers "were fairly awful," Oliver explained.

 

"I wanted to attempt to get him into a point of self-reflection and to attempt to get something out of the dialog, but that didn't occur," he explained.

 

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