John Oliver wants to get the voice for a strange New Zealand bird.

Sunday Last week tonight with After taking some time at the end to break down New Zealand’s upcoming Bird of the Century competition, the host went one step further and announced a full campaign for a bird of his choice: the Pūteketeke

This year, the normally New Zealand Bird of the Year competition is now attempting to crown the bird of the century, and after delving a little deeper into the history and significance of the competition, Oliver came up with the idea of ​​bringing his own bird into play to bring, to.

Here’s a look at how Oliver hopes the Pūteketeke can win Bird of the Century in the “biggest landslide in the history of the competition”.

Find the inspiration

Oliver explained not only the history of New Zealand’s love of birds – the country’s currency features various feathered animals – but also the Bird of the Year competition itself, which has been full of scandal and drama over the years.

For example, there were cases of voter fraud or attempted voter fraud in 2015, 2017, and 2020, as well as a riot when a thug won in 2021. Or, what Oliver described as “bulls**t”, the disqualification of slugger Kakapo after winning twice in 2008 and 2020 to shine a spotlight on lesser-known birds.

“We don’t do that for other awards,” Oliver said, adding sarcastically, “Oh, sorry, Beyoncé, you’ve already won 32 Grammys.” You’re disqualified from now on so that someone worse than you can win. I hope you understand.”

Perhaps Oliver’s greatest attraction to the kakapo, known as the world’s fattest parrot, is the viral 2009 clip of the bird having fun with a photographer, which has been viewed 25 million times to date.

Great bird shop

As Oliver dug deeper into the contest, he learned that there are campaign managers for many birds who have used things like movie parody posters, an endorsement from an adult toy store, and a radio debate in which people imitate the sound of their bird candidate to get votes collect .

He also discovered that the competition isn’t just limited to New Zealand: it’s not just possible anyone With a valid email address to vote, anyone passionate about their favorite bird is encouraged to advocate for them.

“And I’m pretty sure you know where this is going by now,” Oliver said, announcing his own campaign.

Flying with a winner

Oliver chose the Pūteketeke, or Australasian grebe, partly because he says it “looks like Pauly D f****da Swan,” and also the name “is fun to say.”

He added that they are known for carrying babies on their backs and performing a mating dance “where they each grab a clump of wet grass and poke each other in the chest before standing around not knowing what they’re going to do next.” “I’ve never identified with anything more in my damn life.”

And with the Pūteketeke’s existence in jeopardy, Oliver has put together an “alarmingly aggressive” campaign to beat last year’s winner, the rock wren, and its 2,894 first-place votes.

The campaign begins in New Zealand with film parody posters for The Lord of the Wings. He also erected billboards in busy cities in India, Japan, France and Brazil. There is a traveling car advertisement in London that says “Help us crown a real king” with a picture of the Pūteketeke. And for good measure, he also placed a billboard in a small town in Wisconsin called Manitowoc.

As Oliver rose from his desk to join a giant screaming animatronic Pūteketeke on the stage next to him, he reminded people of the website Votethisbird.com and said: “That’s what democracy is all about: America getting involved foreign elections.”

Last week tonight with John Oliver airs Sundays at 11 p.m. on HBO.


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