John Oliver On Close Bond With Fellow Late-Night Hosts & Winning Emmy Against ‘SNL’

Carrying his two new Emmys awards, John Oliver was making his way through the packed HBO afterparty Monday night when he stopped to speak with Deadline about his relationship with fellow late-night hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers.

Together, they launched a limited series podcast, Strike Force Five, during the WGA strike to support their crew members who had been out of work because the shows had shut down due to the strike.

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“Honestly the dynamic had less to do with the podcast and more to do with the fact that the strike was so stressful, it was nice to be able to actually lean on each other a little bit,” Oliver said about the quintet staying in constant communication during the work stoppage. “Not even necessarily anything to do with the podcast, just talking to each other regularly on Zoom.”

Oliver noted the frosty relationship between then-top late-night hosts during the 2007-08 WGA strike when the shows eventually returned on the air, one by one, without writers. It didn’t happen this time thanks to efforts to support struggling crew members via other means, including Strike Force Five.

“It was so fractured the last night in 2008 because the hosts hated each other, and it was really helpful to be able to just lean on each other during that difficult time,” Oliver said. “The most useful thing was just being able before and during the strike to constantly be in contact with each other to make sure that we were all on the same page and we could keep the shows off the air. For that, it was massively useful.”

The close personal relationship between the five hosts has continued post-strike with them staying in a group chat together, Oliver revealed. Did his American counterparts use the text chain to congratulate Oliver on his latest Emmys?

“Of course,” the British-born comedian said.

This year, Last Week Tonight won another Outstanding Writing For Variety Series trophy as well as the first ever Emmy in the newly created category of Outstanding Scripted Variety Series where it faced NBC’s stalwart Saturday Night Live.

Asked about how he feels beating SNL in their head-to-head, Oliver said, “I don’t really think of it that way. It feels so weird to be at these events anyway. The whole thing just feels very confusing.”

After competing (and consistently winning) against Colbert, Kimmel, Fallon and Meyers’ shows for seven years in the Outstanding Variety Talk Series, Oliver’s Last Week Tonight was moved to the newly created Scripted Variety Series field this year.

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Late Night With Seth Meyers were nominated in the Outstanding Talk Series category but lost to The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, the most recent incarnation of The Daily Show, which Noah originally joined in 2014, shortly after Oliver had left it to start Last Week Tonight.

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