John Oliver and Stephen Colbert on How to Host Shows With No Audiences

"It's very nice to have an audience, but I started comedy doing stand-up in England. I am so completely used to delivering jokes to absolute silence and sometimes worse, so this is fine for me," Oliver said on CBS' 'The Late Show.'
HBO; CBS
John Oliver (left), Stephen Colbert

John Oliver and Stephen Colbert spoke about how social distancing has impacted their jobs as late night talk show hosts on Monday's episode of CBS' The Late Show.

When Colbert asked Oliver if he has picked up any new skills while quarantining, the Last Week Tonight host said that he hasn't had much free time. "I have a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old and I'm trying to make a TV show from scratch, so there's no extra time in my day to learn Spanish or how to make a profiterole," Oliver said. "I'm drowning."

He continued: "Things are not going greatly. I'm not becoming better as a human being. I learned, unfortunately, how to make a TV show on my own here with my staff over Zoom. So I'm basically committing union infractions out the wazoo." The HBO host added that his staff talked him through how to run the show "literally like they were talking to a civilian trying to land a plane."

Oliver also said that he didn't have a problem putting on Last Week Tonight without an audience. "It's very nice to have an audience, but I started comedy doing stand-up in England. I am so completely used to delivering jokes to absolute silence and sometimes worse, so this is fine for me," he said. "It genuinely doesn't affect me at all."

The two later spoke about how President Donald Trump is handling the coronavirus pandemic. "I really hope he turns it around. I genuinely, from the bottom of my heart, hope that he can pull a rabbit out of a hat and that rabbit being 'competence,'" said Oliver. "I don't think it's safe for any of us to bank on that."

Colbert noted that the coronavirus has been compared to a war "because it requires collective action, collective suffering." Oliver agreed and said, "That's not necessarily how America has fought wars for the last 50 years. So, America has fought wars by having a small group of people that a large percentage of the population are completely dislocated from going to fight on their behalf and not being particularly well equipped or not ideally equipped to make that fight."

The HBO host noted that medical professionals are acting as soldiers before reiterating that "it is heartbreakingly similar, I think, to how we fought wars in America for the last number of decades." Oliver and Colbert concluded that people need to "sacrifice" their comfort and "bring in the boundaries of your own life" to take care of medical professionals and those that are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.