Open Letter to John Oliver of LAST WEEK TONIGHT

Open Letter to John Oliver of LAST WEEK TONIGHT

Dear John Oliver,

I just want to say that I love your work on Last Week Tonight (especially through the magic of YouTube), but I also have enjoyed your star turns on The Daily Show and Community….but also, that little video that pops up whenever I watch a Doctor Who DVD. You know the one:

I must say that I enjoyed all of my Doctor Who DVDs….except Time and the Doctor, but that’s a post for another time.

But my main purpose is to congratulate you on being named “America’s Social Justice Warrior” by Mashable – the tech site that reflects America’s taste in potatoes. Yes, the phrase “social justice warrior” tends to be used in a pejorative manner, but it’s a way to think about advocates – people who are willing to put themselves out there and work for social change. I think it’s safe to say that I’m proud to consider myself a social justice warrior. One of the aspects of Last Week Tonight that I enjoy the most is the show’s willingness and enthusiasm in focusing on lesser known, but critical issues such as Net Neutrality, the need for a well-funded public defender system, and infrastructure (featuring the comedy magic of Vincent D’Onofrio). But you’re also hitting on issues that impact the nonprofit/social change community as well, whether you’re discussing scholarship competitions, for-profit schools, rules for nonprofit organizations, or even World Cup Soccer.

But I’m e-mailing you because I really enjoyed two particular pieces you did….and which I’ve written about. First, your #JeffWeCan piece focusing on tobacco marketing in other countries – I really wish this was available when I was doing tobacco prevention in St. Louis:

The other was your piece on Ferguson, which prompted a post for Blog Action Day:

But let me get to the point – I would love the opportunity to interview you for this very blog. I would ask you various questions about the show, your beliefs, and possibly the genius of Patrick Troughton, and we would have a conversation similar to the one you did with Pepe Julien Onzema. Although this blog’s focus is technology and social benefit in the Chicago area,  you and your staff do such an exceptional job in highlighting social justice issues with great intelligence and wit and without pandering, and I feel that’s worth highlighting.  To use a rather awkward metaphor – you’re Moss from The IT Crowd while other media are merely Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

(For those reading who don’t understand the reference – one is a sharply written, hilariously observed comedy featuring nerdy references and clever material which serves as a great example of television comedy; the other is The Big Bang Theory).

Now, it may be a bit of a challenge with your show taped in New York while I live in Chicago – but forget about time zones, let’s do this. Here are some suggested ways we can make this happen:

    • I’m more than happy to send you questions via e-mail, which you can answer and send right back to me. The great thing with
      this is that you can answer at your convenience….and one of your producers can reach out via this contact form on my
      personal website.
    • Check out and comment on this blog’s Facebook page (and if you need more direct lines of communication, please see this blog’s About page). Think of it as a way for both of us to work our social media mojo;
    • You can fly here to Chicago and we can go on a tour of our many restaurants, where you can enjoy our fine deep dish pizza, our English-style pubs (which may or may not cure you of any homesickness for Birmingham), and Italian beef sandwiches large enough to be used as small projectiles.
    • Yes, you could fly me out to New York and we could do an interview on air, but let’s face it – I don’t think HBO will spring for it.

Now, Mr. Oliver, you’re more than welcome to read this blog post on the air….or even include it in one of Last Week Tonight’s web-only videos on YouTube. Either way, I wanted to make it known that I would like to thank you and your production staff for all your hard work. And if you wanted to encourage your viewers to help with the Chicago TARDIS charity auction, I would greatly appreciate it.

Last Week Tonight is a great resource (much like FAIR’s CounterSpin podcast) in shedding a light on stories that may not receive mainstream attention, and I’m glad you’re taking the lead in providing that attention. Thanks for being such a stand-up social justice warrior bro.

Your pal,


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