John Oliver Calls Dibs on Mickey Mouse When He Enters Public Domain

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John Oliver on Mickey Mouse

Credit: HBO

On January 1, 2024, the 1928 Steamboat Willie version of Mickey Mouse falls into the public domain. And the host of Last Week Tonight on HBO has already claimed him as the show’s mascot for next year.

Steamboat Willie
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Park Replaces Mickey Mouse, Removes Character From Iconic Location

British comedian, and Daily Show alum, John Oliver hosts HBO’s news recap show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.  Oliver is known for his witty humor, smart take on news comedy, and for taking risks and pushing the envelope on his show. Oliver is also no stranger to discussing the House of Mouse on the show, as he’s referenced Disney in the past many times and reminds his audience often that he was the voice of Zazu in the live-action adaptation of The Lion King (2019).

In his latest episode, Oliver had an entire segment on Steamboat Willie’s likeness being available for the public domain next year. Oliver educates those unfamiliar with the matter, bringing attention to the copyright laws that Disney has impacted over the years to protect their beloved Mickey Mouse. The copyright laws for intellectual properties were extended to 95 years thanks to the infamous “Mickey Mouse Protection Act” of 1998.

John Oliver
Credit: HBO

Oliver then proceeded to claim dibs on Steamboat Willie as the show’s new mascot starting next year but gave fans a little taste of what he would look like with a short animated video of the famous mouse saying, “I hope Henry Kissinger dies soon.”

While the copyright law might prevent Last Week Tonight from officially using this version of Mickey Mouse until next year, they might get a pass under Parody Law. The host states, “we’ll have to see what happens,” suggesting that he is unafraid of legal action. However, the comedian took things a step further when he brought out an actual Steamboat Willie costume performer, the kind you’d see at Disney Parks. The Steamboat Willie mascot went on to say, “Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself.”

Steamboat Willie on Last Week Tonight
Credit: HBO

John Oliver loves to have a good laugh with his little stunts, such as the time he donated money to Danbury, Connecticut, in order to get his name on a sewage plant. What makes Oliver stand out from other late-night show hosts, usually his jokes come with a promise of action. Since the comedian is a man of his word, this may not be the last time audiences see the knock-off Steamboat Willie appear on his show, especially since the character will officially be fair game next year.

How do you feel about Mickey Mouse entering the public domain? Let Inside The Magic know. 

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