John Oliver on ‘Last Week Tonight’s Extended Segments: “There Has to Be Protein Along with Dessert”

johnoliver_dronesLast Week Tonight with John Oliver returns to HBO for its second, 35-episode season this Sunday, and ahead of its debut THR spoke with Oliver about what he learned from season 1 as well as what we can expect from the upcoming episodes. The show won’t stray much from last season’s format, but Oliver revealed that four new researchers have been added to the Last Week Tonight staff from The New York Times Magazine, ProPublica, and Al Jazeera. Oliver’s most interesting response came when he was asked about the success of Last Week Tonight‘s trademark extended segments:

Though the extended segment was something the show made signature after its 12-minute take on the death penalty landed well, Oliver asserted, “You have to have a pretty intense level of contempt for the American people if you think people will only watch something if it’s only two minutes long and you have someone getting smashed in the nuts at some point. And I’m not saying I don’t enjoy two-minute-long, nut-smashing videos, but there has to be more. There has to be protein along with dessert. Although, I was pretty surprised by the extent to which people have wanted to watch long pieces about things that seem objectively boring, like net neutrality, or objectively distressing, like the Iraqi and Afghan translators.”

Later in the interview, HBO co-president Richard Plepler told THR the pay-network’s reasoning for uploading so much Last Week Tonight content on its YouTube channel: “We don’t see it as giving it away; we think it was fantastic marketing of the show, it was fantastic marketing for the brand, and I think it lures people into what is special about HBO. The best advertising we can have is letting people taste some of the unique content on the network, and I think it’s a great compliment to John that it broke that fast and we will continue to do it.”

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