John Oliver Explains That Adam Driver Shout-Out at the Emmys: ‘His Presence Was Felt Throughout Our Script’

“If he’s mad about it, that’s what we’re really looking for,” “Last Week Tonight” host says backstage

John Oliver Emmys Adam Driver
Getty Images

The staff of John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” extended its obsession with Adam Driver on Sunday’s Emmys as show writer Chrissy Shackelford gave the actor a shout-out while accepting the award for writing in a variety talk series.

“He knows what he did, and we know what we’d like him to do,” Shackelford said, no doubt baffling anyone who has not been following the HBO series’ ongoing fixation with the “Star Wars” actor over the last season.

Once backstage after accepting his sixth consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Variety Talk Series, Oliver explained that his team decided to give Driver an on-air mention at the Emmys. “His presence was felt throughout our script,” Oliver said Sunday. “We had said that we wouldn’t do the joke again, and we have done it again. And if he’s mad about it, that’s what we’re really looking for.”

Week after week, Oliver mentioned Driver’s name in hilariously surreal and frequently gross little asides about all the things that Oliver would like the “Marriage Story” and “Star Wars” actor to do to him. Show writers kept the joke going for an awfully long time until Driver finally made a cameo and effectively shouted at Oliver to stop…which was exactly the point of the bit.

Also at the Emmys, Oliver noted that this was genuinely the first time in the last 18 months that he had seen some of the members of his writing staff in person, having recorded much of the show over the last year “from a basement on my own.”

“It’s not just writing the show. You don’t see me below the waist for a reason. I’ve been naked from the waist down for the last 18 months now, and I resent that that has to stop now,” Oliver said. “You know that Robert De Niro film ‘The King of Comedy’ where he’s recording a show on his own and having a nervous breakdown? It felt a little too close for comfort for that sometimes.”