Danbury, Connecticut is a modest city about 50 miles northeast of New York City, with a population around 80,000. The original white settlers wanted to name it Swampfield, and its biggest claim to fame until recently was that American hat-making was briefly centered there in the early days of the Industrial Revolution.
In mid-August, Comedian John Oliver focused a diatribe about racially biased jury selection in Connecticut in the town of Danbury–and locals took offense. Rather than just grumbling on their Facebook and NextDoor groups, the citizens took their grievance to the mayor of Danbury. And Mayor Mark Boughton posted a video to Facebook that he’d like to name the Danbury Water Pollution Control Plant as the “John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant.”
“Why?” said Boughton on his video. “Because it’s full of crap just like you, John.”
Boughton walked his rant back the next day, saying it was just a heated joke, but Oliver was publicly disappointed.
“Wait, so you’re not doing it? Aw (expletive) you, Danbury,” said Oliver during his show on the night of Sunday, August 30. “You had the first good idea in your city’s history, and you chickened out on the follow through. What a classic Danbury move. Listen, I didn’t know that I wanted my name on your (expletive) factory but now that you floated it as an option, it is all that I want.”
Not content to leave it at that, Oliver was quick to turn the public spat into a philanthropic opportunity. He has offered to donate $55,000 to Danbury, splitting it between local food banks and requests from Danbury teachers, if the city follows through on Boughton’s threat.
If they don’t, Oliver said he would give the money to Danbury’s “rival” towns, Waterbury, Milford, and Torrington.
Danbury city officials are currently considering the offer, which Boughton called “very generous.”