The week's news wasn't exactly joyful. Often it's not. Imagine summarizing the week's events for your job, week in and week out. Well, that's exactly what John Oliver and his team do. So can't you blame him for asking you to help make things just a little bit brighter, a little bit happier. On Last Week Tonight Sunday, Oliver asked that you #JustAddZebras to the news. Literally. He has even provided green screen videos of dancing zebras to make it easier.
Of course, these are not real zebras but rather people dressed up in zebra costumes. Oliver introduced them as a shift from the bleak stories covered earlier in the show: "I know the world is a bleak place, right now, so we wanted to leave you with a happy story," Oliver said before signing off on Sunday. Then he introduced a story on an inventive way to fight traffic deaths in the capital city of La Paz.
"I know that you're thinking, 'Wait, hold on. Your happy story involves fatal car accidents in Bolivia?' But wait, wait, wait. Trust me. Because this is the solution that they came up with," Oliver said.
Here's where the zebras come in. The solution is essentially adults dancing in zebra costumes in front of cars to get them to slow down. This was covered by The Atlantic this month and is a fun play on the alternative name for a crosswalk, a zebra crossing. There are stripes. Clever, right?
It turns out the program was inspired by a similar program in Bogotá, Colombia, in which mimes mocked drivers who broke traffic rules. The initiative decreased traffic deaths by 50 percent.
"As far as having mimes roam around your city, I think we can all agree, no. Not only is it tremendously unpleasant, but being mocked my a mime doesn't even work. All you have to say is 'I can talk and you can't.' Argument won. You lock him in a glass box and you walk away," Oliver joked.
But Zebras are A-OK by Oliver's standards. In fact, after watching videos of the zebras being interviewed on YouTube (always in complete costume), Oliver decided this could improve many things.
"Come on! Every interview is improved by a zebra head," Oliver said. "There's a lesson for everyone there. A stressful interview with 60 Minutes? Put on a zebra head. Tough questions on the red carpet? You put on a zebra head. Sean Spicer? Get yourself a zebra head, man!"
Oliver is not joking about his fondness for the striped crossing guards. "I'm pretty sure the existence of these zebras is the only thing keeping my life on track right now," Oliver said. "I have needed this over the last few months. The news has been hard." So Oliver and his team decided to see what they could make better with their own zebra. They taped one dancing in front of a green screen, and then added him to things like Trump's inauguration and Rachel Maddow's segment on Trump's taxes.
The verdict? Much more enjoyable. "With things in America the way they are now, we need these zebras like never before," Oliver said. So use the green screen video and the hashtag #JustAddZebras to improve a news segment of your choice. You'll make all our weeks better.
Image: Last Week Tonight/HBO.