“Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver is baffled by April Fools’ Day and wants people to dislike it as much as he does, he said in a Sunday Web exclusive for his popular HBO show.
Oliver even went so far as to make his studio audience pledge not to act like a jerk this April 1.
“Anyone who claims to be excited for April Fools’ Day is probably a sociopath,” he said. “Because what they’re really saying is, ‘I cannot wait to hurt the people close to me.’”
Television and news shows, however, have a long history of embracing April Fools' pranks.
For example, in 1965 the BBC told audiences it was experimenting with "smellovision." Several viewers reportedly fell for it, saying they could smell scents beamed to their homes.
"South Park" got its fans in a tizzy when it pulled a bait-and-switch for its second season premiere on April Fools' Day in 1998. The ending of the first season was a cliffhanger, leaving viewers wondering about the identity of character Cartman's father. The April 1 episode acknowledged the mystery but didn't even pretend to answer the question.
And last year, NPR movie critic Bob Mondello got everyone worked up when he reported that Keanu Reeves would star in a remake of the 1941 classic "Citizen Kane."
Oliver seems to feel strongly about his stance on April Fools' Day, though: His tirade went on for more than four minutes.
“We don’t need a special holiday to disappoint our loved ones,” he said. “We do that enough on every other holiday by accident.”
The anti-April Fools’ Day pledge included vows not to post fake engagement ring photos on Facebook and not to engage in celebrity death hoaxes.
The Web exclusive was posted because Oliver’s show did not air a new episode this week. Of course, he gave an explanation for why he took the week off.
“To boost ratings on HBO, I plan to murder and dismember a friend of mine,” he said, referring to “The Jinx,” the popular HBO documentary series about murder suspect Robert Durst.
HBO announced in February that it was renewing "Last Week Tonight" for two additional seasons, keeping the British comedian on his news desk through 2017.