John Oliver appears to be already exhausted with Donald Trump's presidency. And really, who can blame him? But while the political satirist behind HBO's Last Week Tonight isn't exactly thrilled at the idea of taking on the president once again, he's nevertheless prepared to do so. In taking on Trump's presidency, John Oliver has more at his disposal than just jokes. In fact, the comedian has one incredibly useful secret weapon in his arsenal — facts.
Although Oliver freely admits the humor of his jokes or the conclusions drawn on his show are all open to debate, the facts, he says, can't be argued with. "What you cannot argue with are the facts in our show," Oliver said in an interview with Dan Rather. "You can absolutely debate the conclusions that we draw from those facts but our facts are rigorously fact checked. ... I am completely confident — we have to be completely confident — in every fact that we put on the show."
In an era where the White House seems to be repeatedly fact challenged, Oliver's sharp, no holds barred comedic criticism feels especially needed. And while Trump's administration appears to depend more on mistruths, Oliver says it's facts we need to rely on.
"That is what we're wrestling with at the moment [with President Trump], right?" Oliver told NPR when asked how he, a fact-loving satirist, will address a president that appears hostile to facts. "It feels interminable to kind of talk about in theory other than to say we're trying, we'll give it a go, and we'll see. It affects everything. ... [There] is a long, revolting history of politicians wanting to use facts in a misleading way, or in the best way to advance their agenda. This I think is different. This isn't just misleading, this is turbocharged."
According to Oliver, factual accuracy is vital even in comedy. "We are fact-checking so deeply down the process — way more deeply than anybody needs to care about, other than the fact that it matters to me and to all of us that we do it because you can't build jokes on sand or they collapse," Oliver told NPR. "If you're talking about important things that's the very baseline of what you should be doing. ... Any joke is worthless if it's built upon a lie."
But while Trump remains a significant topic of conversation at Saturday Night Live and mainstream media outlets, Oliver seems determined not to let him take over Last Week Tonight With John Oliver completely. "We're very anxious to not make it all-Trump, all the time," Oliver told reporters earlier in the week.