≡ Menu

John Oliver Quotes

John Oliver

John Oliver quotes: on his unusual addiction, rules for making fun of people, the state of the world, and more.

“You don’t need people’s opinion on a fact. You might as well have a poll asking: ‘Which number is bigger, 15 or 5?’ or ‘Do owls exist?’ or ‘Are there hats?’”

“Everybody should care about facts. That is something all of us should agree on.”

“When you’re dealing with serious subjects, there is a pressure to be absolutely sure that you know what you’re doing.“

“It’s like for over a century, America’s computer’s been saying, ‘An update to your country is available’ and we’ve been clicking ‘Remind me later’ again and again and again.”

“Think of our government as a body. The IRS is the anus. It’s nobody’s favorite part, but you need that thing working properly or everything goes to sh*t real quick.”

“Payday loans are like the Lay’s Potato Chips of finance. You can’t have just one and they’re terrible for you.”

“Once you learn how to make people laugh, then you get to choose exactly how you want to make them laugh.”

“Think carefully about how and when you make fun of people. Before you pile on, here is my internet shaming checklist to consult: consider the context of the story and the potential consequences. Ask yourself, ‘Is this person’s behavior hurting others, and will that behavior only change with public attention?’ Ask yourself, ‘Should we use a person’s name?’ ‘How much power do they have?'”

“I want to make it clear I’m not anti-shaming in general—a lot of good can come out of it, including increasing accountability for public figures who otherwise aren’t pressured to change. Make sure the ‘punishment’ is proportionate to the original offense.”

“Stand-up comedy seems like a terrifying thing. Objectively. Before anyone has done it, it seems like one of the most frightening things you could conceive, and there’s just no shortcut. You just have to do it.”

“When you’re doing stand-up, you want to stand onstage and, to the extent that you can, uncomplicatedly entertain.”

“There are so many low points with stand-up. You are perpetually humiliated, so it doesn’t really matter anymore. I don’t have any dignity left to lose. An audience can’t hurt you anymore when you’ve been completely dismantled.”

“If you work on a comedy show, your basic form of communication is teasing. That’s generally how we speak to each other: you communicate the information between the lines of insulting sentences.”

“You can write jokes at any point of the day. Jokes are not that hard to write, or they shouldn’t be when it is literally your job. You just try to be true to your idea of what is funny and what is also interesting.”

“I’ve always been interested in socially political, or overtly political, comedy. I watch one news channel until my soul can’t take it anymore. It’s the background of my life.”

“Stand-up, for me, is really more of an addiction, so you have to feed the beast whenever you can.”

“You have to do stand-up quite a long time before you learn how to do it well. It was probably years before I was confident enough in stand-up that I was able to talk about the things I wanted to talk about, the way I wanted to talk about them.”

“I knew I was going to go into the field and make fun of people to their faces. I knew what I was getting into.”

“I wanted to be a soccer player. I knew that couldn’t happen.”

“I performed comedy skits for the first time, and instantly knew I had found my calling. I realized, ‘Oh, I think I’m going to have to try this, because if I don’t, my life is going to be ruined.’ My parents never expressed resistance to this path. It might have helped that my dad’s brother was an opera composer, so he’d already had quite a kind of erratic, hard-to-understand life. He’d been pretty successful. That had been his job. So I think that helped get their heads around the idea that this was something that, potentially, could happen.”

“It’s all the responsibility I’ve spent my whole life trying to avoid. When I was 10, I thought being a comedian meant getting up at 1:00 in the afternoon. At The Daily Show, the ideas meeting was at 9 a.m., and the first passes at the day’s jokes were due around 11:15 a.m. The entire episode’s script is locked down by 2 p.m. Every 15 minutes during the day at The Daily Show is pretty f*cking important. The Daily Show was my life. I loved it so much that I was there all day, every day.”

“I’m eager to push the show’s machinery harder and further, and to take more risks.”

“I really love stand-up. I’m more than happy to do it for nothing. I’ve come to America to do it for nothing. It’s the American Dream: work for free.”

“Normally, I’d criticize the White House operations team for either having no f*cking clue what is and isn’t safe, or just not caring. But given there’s a pretty good chance that most of them have COVID now, I guess I’ll just say, ‘Feel better guys.’ This week, more than ever, proves that in the midst of a pandemic when you act without caution, you cannot expect the virus to simply stand back and stand by.”

“In a piece when we’re trying to reach out to people’s anxieties, it might be meaningful to say, ‘I’m as panicked about everything as anyone is, but we did this.'”

“We’re gonna need to look out for one another, and not just in terms of containing the transmission of this virus, but also the economic impact that this is going to have for people who aren’t prepared to weather it.”

“I think the best analogy for where we are right now is that America is Elvis Presley—the most beautiful, talented, rebellious nation in the history of Earth. And now, you’re in your Vegas years. You’ve squeezed yourself into a white jumpsuit, you’re wheezing your way through ‘Love Me Tender’ and you might be about to pass away bloated on the toilet. But you’re still the King.”

Related: Dr. Phil quotes.

Cory Johnson: your momma’s neighbor’s side chick’s last Uber Eats delivery guy’s third-favorite blogger. Here’s how he makes millions of dollars blogging without being bothered.