John Oliver stands in front of a giant bird puppet in 'Last Week Tonight.'

John Oliver Leads a Very Important Campaign for Bird of the Century

Voting matters.

HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver never fails to be hilarious. Case in point: this week’s segment on New Zealand’s very important upcoming Bird of the Century election is so funny that it had me in tears.

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The writers of Last Week Tonight are absolutely brilliant. Every week they balance heavy, serious topics with perfect humor. John Oliver’s comedic style perfectly suits the age of the internet. I mean, sexy photos of him once took over Reddit. And his crush on Adam Driver was kind of hot. We can’t get enough of this guy. At the end of this week’s episode, Oliver brought up a very important election going on currently in New Zealand: the Bird of the Century. It brings two of Oliver’s great passions together: voting and birds.

Every year, New Zealand has a very serious election to decide the Bird of the Year. That title has gone three times to the “shagging parrot” who “smells nice,” the kakapo. However, the kakapo has now been disqualified for winning too many times. These elections are a big deal in New Zealand, where each bird has a campaign manager who may debate other managers to ensure the right bird gets the vote. The debates may include the managers trying to replicate the bird calls. There are also some pretty amazing campaign posters, one of which was a mashup of the rockhopper penguin and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Yes, the Rocky Hopper Picture Show.

Oliver is backing one special bird for Bird of the Century: the pūteketeke, also known as the Australasian crested grebe. Describing the bird, Oliver says it “looks like Pauly D f*cked a swan.” Also, Oliver said he deeply identifies with the pūteketeke’s mating dance, where the birds “grab a clump of wet grass and chest bump each other before standing around, unsure of what to do next.” So awkward and so beautiful. Since the pūteketeke is endangered, Oliver went all-out for an ad campaign. Essentially, Last Week Tonight is spending HBO’s money to hilarious ends around the world. This includes ads in New Zealand, Japan, France, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. My personal favorite is the driving billboard in London that says “Help Us Crown a Real King.” Perfection, no notes.

Let’s all help John Oliver out by visiting his site, votethisbird.com, before voting closes on Friday, November 10 to vote for the pūteketeke as Bird of the Century. They are counting on us!

(featured image: HBO)


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D.R. Medlen
D.R. Medlen (she/her) is a pop culture staff writer at The Mary Sue. After finishing her BA in History, she finally pursued her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer in 2019. She expertly fangirls over Marvel, Star Wars, and historical fantasy novels (the spicier the better). When she's not writing or reading, she lives that hobbit-core life in California with her spouse, offspring, and animal familiars.