Why the Last Week Tonight With John Oliver writing team dedicated their Emmy win to Adam Driver
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver continued its years-long Emmys win streak on Sunday night. HBO's weekly late-night show took home the statues for Outstanding Variety Talk Series and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. It was the show's sixth award in a row for each category.
The continued wins may have been predictable, but the acceptance speeches were not. When a selection of the show's writers stepped up to the podium to accept the Outstanding Writing award on behalf of their whole staff, writer Chrissy Shackelford dedicated the win to none other than... Adam Driver?
"He knows what he did," Shackelford said as an explanation, while John Oliver himself and other writers nodded solemnly.
If you're not a regular viewer of Last Week Tonight, this may have seemed like a strange non sequitur. What does the star of Marriage Story and Star Wars: The Last Jedi have to do with HBO's resident late-night host? But over the past year, a running gag has developed on Last Week Tonight of Oliver regularly making horny-but-surreal references to Driver, often in the midst of unrelated monologues.
For instance, in an episode last August about former President Donald Trump's promise to build a border wall, Oliver referred to Driver as a "human wall" and dared the Annette star to "crush my ribcage, you load-bearing behemoth." Other outrageous and hilarious things Oliver has said about Driver include "pull my heart out through my ear, you meaty oak tree," "sneeze in my McFlurry you pensive bison," "step on my throat you rudely large man," "snap off my toes you big unwashed buffalo," and more. If you're intrigued, don't worry: Compilations are readily available on YouTube.
The bit came to a head in Last Week Tonight's season 7 finale last November, when Driver himself came on the show to confront Oliver about "the strange, strange bit that for some reason you've pulled me into."
"Consider this bit over. It's done," Oliver told Driver then. But if Sunday's speech was any indication, the bit is far from done.
"We noticed him last year, I don't know if you noticed us noticing him," Oliver said when asked about the bit backstage at the Emmys ceremony. "If he's mad about it, that's what we are looking for."
For his part, Oliver spent his own acceptance speech for Outstanding Variety Talk Series apologizing to fellow competitor Conan O'Brien, who had just concluded the final season of his late-night program Conan, and thanking him for "30 years of inspiring comedy writers." Oliver also referenced the recent passing of frequent Conan guest Norm Macdonald.
"If you have time in the next week, do what I've been doing and YouTube clips of Norm and Conan, because it just doesn't get better than that," Oliver said — just in case you need something to watch after finishing those Oliver/Driver compilations.
Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.