As Kelly Clarkson once said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That’s a life lesson that stand-up comedians like John Oliver have to learn the hard way early on in their careers, when they’re dying onstage during particularly awful gigs. “I’ve had many bad gigs, and they’re all much more character-forming than good gigs,” Oliver told to Stephen Colbert when the Daily Show veterans met for their post-election conversation, “Wow, That Was Weird,” held on Nov. 19 as a fundraiser for the Montclair Film Festival.
The Last Week Tonight host proceeded to regale his Late Show friend with the specific circumstances of his worst gig ever, which involved a “100 percent walkout” by an audience of four during a performance at the famed Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where numerous comics have crashed and burned. You can watch Oliver’s full account of this formative trial by fire — which he describes as feeling like “What a nightmare should be” — in the above clip. At least Oliver can take heart in knowing he’s had a dream career ever since.
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on CBS. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver will return Sunday, Feb. 12, on HBO.