John Oliver’s illustrious comedy career apparently didn’t get off to the smoothest start.
“The first joke I ever got on TV got me fired,” Oliver said on this week’s episode of the “Strike Force Five” podcast with fellow late night hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel.
The British-American comedian said he was working on “The Big Breakfast,” a U.K. morning TV show that ran from 1992 to 2002.
The offending episode featured a guest appearance from Tatyana Ali, who was starring at the time as Ashley Banks on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
“They wanted to do a bit with they have like an emergency glass break in case of running out of ideas, questions,” said Oliver, now the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight.” “So everyone was just writing a whole bunch of jokes … the host would pick one of them.”
“And I’ve written a question, saying: ‘Obviously the war Kosovo isn’t going well. It doesn’t seem like airstrikes are going to be enough. Would you send in ground troops?’”
“And the chance of it getting picked out was really really low,” he continued. “And he’s picked it out, he started reading it, and just my blood ran cold.”
As they were watching it on the live feed, Oliver said, his fellow writers knew he was going down. “You are totally fucked right now,” he said he was told.
In Oliver’s recollection, the guest had a look of “panic” on her face, and said something along the lines of: “Uh, I don’t know, I wasn’t expected to talk about this.”
Listen to Episode 4 of “Strike Force Five” below.