While viewership on HBO Sunday nights are almost exclusively Game of Thrones whirlpools, it seems that Last Week Tonight was able to make a sizable stake of its own yesterday—and it didn’t even air on HBO.
Last night, host John Oliver appeared in one of his web-exclusive segments that he usually posts in lieu of actual episodes, and despite the video’s brevity—a mere three minutes—it’s already passed one million viewers in a mere twelve hours. And Oliver owes it all to Beyoncé, the Boston Red Sox, and most of all, cicadas.
Oliver appeared before the camera, and told the YouTube audience, “We wanted to quickly address one absolutely huge story.”
According to a CBS clip Oliver implemented into his story, cicadas—the fly-looking insect with orb-like, red eyes and a distinct, loud sound—are waking up from their seventeen-year slumber under the earth.
“Yes, the cicadas are coming,” Oliver says in a mock voice of importance. “Since they were conceived in 1999, I’m guessing all the girl cicadas are named Madison and the boy cicadas are named Tyler.”
Oliver tells the crowd that, “sadly,” the cicadas won’t have a lot of time to enjoy life above the ground. The swarm will buzz about for two weeks, he explains, mate, and then die.
Someone in the audience shouts, “Woo!”
“That’s an odd thing to ‘woo,’” says Oliver, but continues on, revealing why he took a few minutes out of his break weekend to spend with Last Week Tonight. The host says he does not want the cicadas to waste too much time catching up on the events of the world since 1999, so Oliver and his team put together a collection of the world’s happenings from the new millennium.
First, he devotes his cicada’s education to politics. “We voted in a second Bush by a narrow margin, and we rejected a third Bush by an enormous margin,” Oliver says to a caucus of laughter.
He then explains technology, from the Internet—which “no longer screams in agony when you dial into it”—to sites like YouTube, which Oliver was currently broadcasting through and is also apparently the platform for teenagers to become famous for doing mundane activities. And Oliver also touched on sports, highlighting Michael Jordan’s crying episode and the Boston Red Sox, who hadn’t won a World Series since 1918 before 1999, and finally did win post last-cicada launch in 2004.
“Which somehow made [the fans] more insufferable,” Oliver says to the room full of grateful New Yorkers.
Oliver finally moved on to pop culture, and he warns the cicadas to brace themselves. He glides through race stereotypes flipped, from Dr. Dre, who is now a mogul while Macklemore is a rapper, and then on to the “curly-haired guy from N’Sync”—aka Justin Timberlake—who rocketed to become one of the world’s most successful musicians.
And then, of course, it being only a week since the drop of Lemonade, John Oliver introduces the new Bey order to the swarm insects.
“[Beyonce] is now essentially our queen,” says the late-night host. “On your knees!”
Overall, Oliver’s three-minute refresher on 2000’s history is just that—no new information, just things anyone currently alive and owning a TV/computer would know. The video wasn’t even like his Donald Trump killer from earlier this season, which also snatched up a couple million views after its airing on HBO.
And yet, by noon the next day after the “Cicadas” segment was posted, one million viewers had already tuned in. It’s possible America was hungry for the knowledge that the world’s most terrifying insect swarm was returning for the summer, or more likely, that Americans are already nostalgic for the near-past, which is inching away with every year. Maybe these cicadas, soon-to-be-visible reminders that time’s marched on, gathered those viewers for John Oliver despite Game of Thrones’ bombshell reveal in the same night.
Last Week Tonight returns to its normal scheduled time next Sunday, 5/8, on HBO.
You can watch the full segment below, here.