Need An Entertaining Refresher On Net Neutrality? John Oliver Has You Covered

In this week’s Last Week With John Oliver, the comedian makes the critical (but snooze-inducing) issue of net neutrality humorous enough to interest the masses.

Update: Apparently the FCC is experiencing the pain of slow data speeds after John Oliver’s call for his viewers to leave comments on expressing their support of net neutrality. Earlier this afternoon, the comment section of the website imploded from the weight of traffic.


Net neutrality, the principle that Internet service providers should treat all data equally and not charge creators different fees for different speeds, is in serious jeopardy, and it affects everyone who uses the Internet. But the mainstream media hasn’t been covering it to the extent it should, said comedian John Oliver on this week’s episode of Last Week With John Oliver, because discussions around it are just so damned boring and technical.

“Net neutrality: The only two words that promise more boredom in the English language are ‘featuring Sting,'” Oliver says, adding that he would “rather listen to a pair of Dockers tell me about the weird dream it had” than sit through a Capitol Hill hearing on the subject.

But because of net neutrality’s importance, Oliver spent a large segment of this week’s show laying out the issue in the straightforward, informative, and hilarious terms needed to get the message across.

“Here’s the thing,” said Oliver. “Net neutrality is actually hugely important–it essentially means that all data has to be treated equally, no matter who created it. It’s why the Internet is a weirdly level playing field. It’s why startups can supplant established brands. It’s how Facebook supplanted MySpace, which supplanted Friendster, which supplanted actually having any friends.

“The point is, the Internet in its current form is not broken, and the FCC is currently taking steps to fix that.”

Oliver went on to explain that the FCC is endorsing new rules that would allow for a two-tier system wherein cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner could charge tech companies more money to serve their content at greater speeds. He quotes a telecommunications lawyer saying that while “fast lane and slow lane is a good illustration, what you really should be saying is a fast lane for everybody, and a hyperspeed lane for others.”


“Bullshit,” said Oliver. “If we let cable companies offer two speeds of service, they won’t be Usain Bolt, and Usain Bolt on a motorbike. They’ll be Usain Bolt, and Usain bolted to an anchor.” He goes on to show a graph of how Netflix’s speed plummeted on Comcast during service negotiations with the cable company, and returned to normal levels once the streaming service agreed to Comcast’s demands.

Watch the video above if you or someone you know needs a primer on net neutrality, or just appreciates a good joke about coyote urine.


About the author

Evie Nagy is a former staff writer at, where she wrote features and news with a focus on culture and creativity. She was previously an editor at Billboard and Rolling Stone, and has written about music, business and culture for a variety of publications.