Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

New American John Oliver tells Stephen Colbert just how scary the U.S. citizenship test is

John Oliver, Stephen Colbert
John Oliver, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show

You’d think that, for a guy who’s spent the last several years hilariously breaking down the most absurd elements of American governance, the U.S. citizenship test would be a breeze. After all, while those wishing to become U.S. citizens have to study 100 questions as part of the civics portion, only ten are asked on the actual test, and you only need to get six of those right. Still, John Oliver, who’s spent a decade wading through the complicated (and, under Trump, even more suspiciously complicated) process, found his mouth drying up when his turn finally came. (Spoiler alert: He passed, becoming a dual citizen of American and Great Britain last December.) “It was unbelievably tense,” Oliver told former Daily Show chum Stephen Colbert on Monday’s Late Show, explaining that the pressure caused him to blank on some really hard stuff, like his phone and Social Security numbers. He also stumbled momentarily upon being asked to name the current U.S. president, although he admitted that his gag reflex may have had something to do with that. Maybe because British-born Oliver, unlike Donald Trump, knows the difference between Missouri and Kansas, knows there aren’t countries named “Nipple” or “Button,” is aware that the Baltic States and the Balkans are separate places, and knows that you can’t just add stuff to a map with a Sharpie when people point out what a complete, farcical dunce you really are.

As the smug Colbert noted, he himself—like Trump—never had to prove their American bona fides, having successfully navigated their way out of their respective American mothers’ birth canals. Still, Oliver preemptively trumped Colbert’s flag-waving by emerging onto the Late Show set on a litter carried aloft by a quartet of buff shirtless guys in Uncle Sam getups while firing a T-shirt cannon into the crowd. (He also tried out a little signature American manspreading.) U.S.A.! U.S.A.! 


As for his own December 13 naturalization ceremony, Oliver, while claiming that, like all comedians, he’s “slightly allergic to sincerity,” admitted it was incredibly moving to join with his fellow immigrants in taking the oath. You know, especially now, since, as he put it, picking a Trump-ian America “not at its best” is like “falling in love with someone vomiting all over themselves.” You’re just sort of banking that, after all the mess gets hosed off, there’s someone still worthwhile underneath.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver returns on Sunday on HBO.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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