Brow Beat

John Oliver Recorded From an Empty Studio to Share Some Simple Advice About the Coronavirus

Late-night hosts like Samantha Bee and Stephen Colbert performed without their usual audiences last week, but they still got a few scattered laughs from crew members on set. That wasn’t the case on Last Week Tonight, where John Oliver opened the show by explaining that CBS Broadcast Center, where Last Week Tonight usually tapes, had a confirmed case of the coronavirus, forcing them to relocate for one last show before they take an indefinite hiatus. The result was an intense 20 minutes of Oliver broadcasting from an eerie white void with no audible response from the crew, even when he was cracking jokes about the Kars4Kids jingle or hand-washing TikTok hamsters.

Though Oliver used part of the segment to chastise Trump for his poor handling of the coronavirus outbreak, he urged viewers to focus on what they can do to help each other instead:

I know things are currently very scary. Things are gonna be weird for a while, for weeks and, more likely, months. And the fact that that is true makes it even more important that going forward we’re gonna need to look out for one another, and not just in terms of containing the transmission of this virus, but also in terms of the economic impact that this is going to have on people who may well not be able to weather it. This is going to be an unsettling and potentially lonely time, so think about calling older relatives or neighbors or just anyone that you know who may be vulnerable or feeling isolated. One small way you can help is by donating financially to your local food bank. There is a directory of those at feedingamerica.org. And just to reiterate, try your best—I know it’s hard—but try your best to tune out and not pass on misinformation in the coming weeks from sources like, sadly, the president.

Last Week Tonight, like many other late-night shows, is taking some time off but promises to return as soon as possible.