On Tuesday night's Late Show with Stephen Colbert, John Oliver was on to promote the return of Last Week Tonight this Sunday when Colbert asked the HBO show's propensity for bits that involve elaborate mascot costumes, the cost of which Oliver hopes to forever hide from HBO.
"When I was a kid, I loved the Muppets so much," Oliver said. "What we wanted to do was kind of make our version of The Muppet Show."
Colbert then asked which Muppet he would be, suggesting Kermit the Frog. "I'm not so self-confident as to claim Kermit," Oliver responded. "When I was a kid, I liked Rowlf. I liked him because he did good takes to camera. He could get a laugh anytime he did that. I liked the Swedish Chef. Naturally funny."
That's when Colbert dropped a Swedish Chef trivia bomb that seemed to blow Oliver's mind. "He is the only Muppet with human hands. Jim Henson is the Swedish Chef, or was the Swedish Chef, and Frank Oz was the hands, and I was talking with Frank about this, and he said they had actually done it for like a month before they went 'holy cow, what are we doing? We forgot to give him hands!'... It was just a mistake!"
Oliver noted how amazing Henson and Oz were as Kermit and Fozzie Bear even just in camera test footage from 1979's The Muppet Movie, which you can see below.. "Those two were incredible... Just testing the cameras, so deep in character, like full Daniel Day-Lewis on Muppets. Incredibly funny, constantly in character, the utter greatest."
Later in the interview, Oliver takes a Buzzfeed test to determine which Muppet he is, and he's astonished to learn that he's Miss Piggy. "It's a massive compliment," he said, but quickly added "I do not have the sexual confidence of a Miss Piggy."
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver returns to HBO Sunday, February 14, at 11:00 PM ET.
Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.