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Throughout the early darkness of the pandemic, Last Week Tonight kept people amused with John Oliver’s out-of-left-field obsession with Adam Driver. The host began that running joke (which included calling the Girls star a “f*ckable redwood” and “big unwashed buffalo”) with a declaration that, “There’s only one infectious disease that two thirds of the world should be getting right now, and that’s Adam Driver Fever.” This continued, ridiculously so, for the whole of 2020 (and with John begging Adam to “sneeze in my McFlurry”), which culminated with Driver’s video appearance on the show’s final episode of the year. His tone was appropriately wtf about John jonesing for humiliation (and to be demolished, etc., by the “pensive bison”), but Adam was obviously in on the joke.
It worked, possibly because we were all losing it that year (no judgment on what we’ve been doing this past year). The show even responded to Driver’s shirtless ad campaign, and Oliver eventually revealed how the joke began. Now, Oliver has spoken with Collider about how they kept the joke going. Long story short, the show got in touch with Driver at an early stage, and he was weirded out but receptive. From there, the season finale confrontation was in the cards:
“[W]e reached out to Adam Driver to say, “hey, I don’t know if you know we are doing this joke, if you would like to come on at the end of the year I will keep going and we’ll set it up. If not, we will stop.” Because we did not want to get into that situation, exactly like you say, where you are building to a payoff, and you can’t stick the landing. So once we knew he was going to come at the end of the year, at that point, and this is five jokes in, at that point we realized, oh, we are continuing this at the end of the year then. But you can confidently accelerate knowing that the payoff is going to be beautiful.”
There’s no word on whether the joke shall continue, but it sure as heck did at the most recent Emmys ceremony. Last Week Tonight will return on February 20, hopefully while keeping that dream alive.