Last Week Tonight with John Oliver proves it belongs with all-star first-season finale salmon cannon salute

TV networks may still use Nielsen ratings as their primary measuring stick for how successful their programs in gaining viewers and selling advertisements. But Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is on HBO, where such ratings are even less reliable and relevant than they are for the broadcast networks. So less so that HBO and Last Week Tonight made a specific effort to make much of the first season available almost immediately on YouTube to anyone, regardless of whether they subscribe to the pay-cable net.

By that marker, Oliver’s first season already was a huge success.

More than 1 million YouTube subscribers to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Millions more views of each week’s episode clips circulate via sharing by new and old media sites alike. So much sharing that The Awl even created “The John Oliver Video Sweepstakes” to rank all of those site shares by how many Facebook interactions they earned on their Oliver/HBO links.

And Oliver closed out his first season/year with multiple buzzworthy segments; none more buzzworthy, perhaps, than his play on a “salmon cannon” profiled last week on CBS This Morning. Turns out a company built a cannon that actually shoots individual salmon across and over dams so they can continue their annual upstream spawning missions.

Oliver used his own version of such a cannon to shoot salmon into the faces of his late-night colleagues and others eager to show they’re onboard with the hippest, hottest late-night show in America in 2014.

The roll call, please!

  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
  • The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
  • The Young and the Restless (CBS)
  • ESPN’s SportsNation with Michelle Beadle
  • Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard
  • Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC)
  • Anderson Cooper (CNN)
  • Rachael Ray on set of her show
  • Tom Hanks (whilst filming a PSA)
  • The Simpsons (FOX)
  • The Soup (E!)
  • Wanda Sykes (Showtime, on set for Inside Comedy?)
  • Late Show with David Letterman (CBS)
  • Mario Batali on set of The Chew (ABC)
  • Let’s Make a Deal and Wayne Brady (CBS)
  • Meredith Vieira on set of her show
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (offstage with R2-D2 and JJ Abrams)
  • Modern Family (ABC)
  • The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
  • Kelly Ripa on set of her show, Live with Kelly and Michael (ABC)
  • The Simpsons again
  • Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
  • Hanks again
  • Letterman again
  • Abrams again
  • The Simpsons, again again!

Roll the clip!

Even before that, though, Oliver enjoyed having fun at the expense of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who reportedly instructed his employees to buy up 400 possible domain names with his name in them — thanks to a new law allowing website addresses that end in .nyc.

Of course, as Oliver shrewdly pointed out, that’s not going to cover the infinite number of possibilities…such as the three they bought:




Last Week Tonight with John Oliver will return with new episodes Sunday nights in 2015.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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