John Oliver Still Thinks It's "A Little Early" to Discuss 2020 Presidential Election

The 'Last Week Tonight' host also revisited his first acting role, from when he was six years old, when he visited 'Late Night With Seth Meyers' on Monday.
Courtesy of Lloyd Bishop/NBC

John Oliver thinks it's too soon to start talking about the 2020 presidential election.

The Last Week Tonight host revealed that he thought it was "a little early" for news outlets to be covering the upcoming election when he visited Late Night on Monday.

"The bar's pretty low now. Whenever anyone announces for president, I just go, 'Sure, fine. Add it to the list. You're fine. Kamala Harris, great. Bernie Sanders, great,'" he said about the many politicians who have announced their candidacies. "A tortoise walking across an abandoned Wendy's parking lot. Has he got an exploratory committee? You would work, as well."

Other politicians who have announced their candidacies include Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard and Julian Castro.

"The bar is so low, so all they're gonna do now is announce that they're running for president and then go raise money," Oliver continued. "So there is not much to see there."

Oliver's comments echo his past reluctance to discuss an upcoming presidential election before the year in which it takes place. 

On Late Night, Oliver added that he felt it was "dangerous" to give the 2020 election too much attention. "There's plenty of other shit that we should be looking at," he said.

Host Seth Meyers then asked Oliver how he remains calm during the "madness" of the current political climate.

After he stated that it felt more like "an existential question," Oliver answered, "It's difficult. I think that the problem is that at the moment, not only with Trump, who's president so you have to pay attention to him like you would pay attention to a bull in a China shop, but also the new candidates, it kind of shows that we're concentrating too much on personalities right now, which is hard to criticize when those personalities are in the White House," he continued. "We do have systemic problems underneath them, so I can't really get excited about new candidates yet because it's 20 months away from the election."

Oliver also spoke about what it's like to "unplug" from current events when his show is off the air. "It's nice to unplug from something that's poisonous. But the problem is when there's poison around, you kind of want to know what's happening," he said. "It feels reckless and irresponsible to say, 'I won't concern myself with the fact that America is destroying itself. I'll surprise myself three months later to see what's happened.'"

Later in the interview, Oliver reflected on his first acting job at the age of six. Meyers shared that the guest had acted in an adaptation of Charles Dickens' Bleak House.

"That is actually true," said Oliver. "It also sounds like an offensive stereotype about a British person. 'You were all probably in Dickensian dramas growing up.' Sadly, I was."

"Basically when I was six years old, the BBC was shooting a costume drama called Bleak House nearby my school and they wanted a kid with dark hair and brown eyes and I was two for two on that," he explained. "I was in this very, very lavish Dickensian drama for the BBC with Dame Diana Rigg."

"I didn't understand what anything was. I didn't know what was happening. They just said, 'Do you want to do this?' I said, 'Is it at the same time as school?' They said, 'Yes, you'll have to leave school,'" he recalled. "I said yes before they ended that conversation."

Oliver added it was a "very, very weird experience" before Meyers shared a clip from his acting debut.

After the brief clip played, Oliver recalled that he was told to look bored during the scene. "I remember thinking, 'Oh, that's OK. I am bored,'" he said.

Oliver added that the only other thing he remembers from being on set was that Rigg gave him aniseed balls, which he said were "absolutely disgusting."