The title sequence ends, and the lights come up to reveal a bespectacled Englishman in a suit, staring earnestly into the camera. John Oliver is not only here to make you laugh, he is here to make you think.
Newcomers to Last Week Tonight may know Oliver from his seven year stint as a Daily Show correspondent, from The Bugle podcast or perhaps as Professor Ian Duncan from quirky NBC comedy Community. However Oliver's new venture is very much a one man show.
In the six months the show has been on air Oliver has tackled a number of different issues, and often devotes up to fifteen minutes to one particular issue to ensure that it can be fully explained and explored.
The show made waves in its first week by covering the Indian Election at length, a topic of global importance that was sparsely covered by the US news media.
It has since covered such diverse topics as anti-gay legislation in Uganda, net neutrality, student debt, payday loans, the death penalty and Scottish independence to name but a handful. Most recently Oliver covered the US embargo on Cuba which was renewed this week, despite embargoes being previously ended on countries such as North Korea.
Several things mark out Last Week Tonight in the predictable comparisons with The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Last Week Tonight airs on HBO, and therefore has no issues with foul language, nudity and, most importantly, offending advertisers. Oliver is allowed a free reign to pursue any corporation or individual without worrying about a financial backlash for the network. This cam in particularly handy during Oliver's discussion of the issues surrounding Native Advertising.
Last Week Tonight is also extremely active on social media, most noticeably on YouTube. HBO, commonly known for producing quality television of the boxset variety, is heading into uncharted waters with a topical news show.They have therefore made the inspired choice to see YouTube not as problem, but as an asset.
By voluntarily putting Oliver's show on-line they have reached an international audience, vastly increased viewing figures and achieved free advertising all in one neat little YouTube channel. They even produce an impressive amount of content solely for publication on the channel.
So on the face of things everyone is a winner.
Except, that is, for some of the targets of Oliver's stories. Last Week Tonight has managed to achieve the impossible and actually waking audiences from political apathy and encouraging them to become involved in the stories - with fascinating results.
After a story regarding net neutrality, audiences crashed the FCC website after Oliver called on them to complain about the issue. Not only that, after Oliver compared FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to a dingo babysitting a baby, Wheeler hilariously RESPONDED at a press conference.
It has become clear that Last Week Tonight is a breath of fresh air, not just for US television but internationally. Oliver uses his outsider status to find the flaws in the issues that many US citizens have come to reluctantly accept as an inescapable reality.
Not only does he provide truthful and passionate coverage of issues of world-wide importance, Oliver also can't help giving the audience a sense that he is inescapably a good person, however naive it sounds to say it. His show is engaging, informative and important. It is a beacon of sanity in a world increasingly at risk of being overwhelmed by information.
And if you ever (how could you?) become bored of the political discussions on his show, there is always just the right amount of silliness to balance it out again.
Exhibit A: Space Sex Geckos