John Oliver ‘nearly burst into tears’ voting for the first time as a U.S. citizen

John Oliver in 2019
Emmy-winning TV host John Oliver got emotional voting in this year’s U.S. election.
(Alex Berliner / Invision / Associated Press)

“Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver talked to fellow late-night comedian Stephen Colbert Monday about voting for the first time as a U.S. citizen and revealed he got choked up in the voting booth.

“Honestly, it was amazing,” Oliver told his fellow “Daily Show” alum. “As an immigrant who had just got his citizenship in December of last year, I was waiting for that to feel real. When you worry about your immigration status all the time, even getting your passport still doesn’t feel real because you haven’t tested it against a system.”

Oliver moved to the U.S. from England in 2006, was approved for U.S. residency (a green card) in 2009 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen last December. The Emmy winner’s journey through the citizenship process has been a long one, but it has also provided him with plenty of comedic fodder.


This is the first American election John Oliver can vote in since he became an American citizen and he said he nearly burst out crying after he cast his ballot.

“I tried engraving ‘Give me your tired, your poor and your aspiring comic performers’ into the base of the Statue of Liberty,” Oliver said in a 2009 interview. “But apparently that’s not legally binding.”

On Monday’s “The Late Show,” the comedian opened up with sincerity about being nearly moved to tears while casting his ballot for this year’s presidential election.

“Standing in line, I thought maybe this would be it, and I didn’t feel it,” Oliver told Colbert. “Giving them my name and getting the ballot, I didn’t feel it. Scanning it into the machine and the machine saying, ‘Your vote has been counted,’ I nearly burst into tears. That is the truth. My eyes got misty and I thought, ‘I don’t know if I can cry in a voting station.’”

The political commentator said he waited for an hour and a half at his polling place in New York City. He pointed out how, in countries like his native England, long lines to vote are never the norm.

“I think lines have been normalized in America. I think you think that everyone else stands in line for hours. They don’t,” Oliver told Colbert. “That you have to stand in line for that long is an absolute disgrace, wherever you are. Nobody else has to stand in line for seven, nine, 11 hours, whatever you’re hearing about. It’s absurd.”

Oliver is in good company too. Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool”), British actor Gregg Sulkin (“Runaways”) and Australian actress Claire Holt (“The Originals”) all cast ballots in the U.S. for the first time this election.

“To all the people who told me to go back to my own country when I voiced my opinion during the 2016 election,” Holt wrote on Instagram. “THIS IS MY COUNTRY NOW AND I VOTED! #bidenharris2020.”

Another set of famous faces were able to vote for the first time for a different reason. Migos rapper Offset, hip-hop giant Snoop Dogg and boxing star Mike Tyson all exercised their right to vote after learning they were, in fact, eligible despite felony convictions.

“I ain’t never voted a day in my life, but this year I think I’mma get out and vote because I can’t stand to see this punk in office one more year,” Snoop Dogg told radio host Big Boy in June. “For many years they had me brainwashed thinking that you couldn’t vote cause you had a criminal record. I didn’t know that. My record’s been expunged, so now I can vote.”