Popular English comedian, John Oliver has left his long-time position on The Daily Show and is getting prepared to make beautiful comedy in partnership with network giant, HBO. His late-night talk show entry with the new program, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, debuts this evening. Oliver’s summer stand in for The Daily Show’s long-standing host, Jon Stewart may have been a determining factor in what ultimately led to the acquisition of his own solo program.
After spending years on The Daily Show as Jon Stewart’s correspondent, Oliver has been slowly garnering a more active and all-encompassing presence over the years with appearances on popular programs like NBC’s Community, in which he played Ian Duncan, the inept professor of psychology at Greendale Community College. Oliver’s distinctive voice can also be heard in a recent episode of Robot Chicken, the popular stop motion animation sketch comedy that is aired on the Adult Swim half of Cartoon Network. Following his summer stint as the host of The Daily Show in Jon Stewart’s stead, Oliver said that he began to receive job offers by phone, but that he did not realize the implications until he did a show with legend, Charlie Rose. Rose allegedly remarked to Oliver that the audience loved him, giving him his first clue into an impending success.
John Oliver is known for his sarcasm, quippy nature, and bespectacled face. He has been quoted saying that he is “terrified and excited” about the new show and speaks eagerly about his new-found ability to use profane language on the set with HBO’s permission having been granted. In his traditional style, Mr. Oliver also joked about his expectations to receive free HBO service with the partnership. For his first episode, Mr. Oliver has a rather serious itinerary consistent of an interview with retired National Security Agency (NSA) director and four-star U.S. Army General, Keith Alexander. More than just a retired NSA official and soldier, Alexander was also the Commander of The United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) for nearly four years, which has the potential to make for a very hard-hitting debut episode in contrast to the beautiful comedy that the public is prepared to see from the partnership between John Oliver and HBO.
Oliver says that his show will “deliver breaking news on a weekly basis,” but adamantly refuses to include certain headlines on his program. Oliver specifically refers to promenade stories about teenage boys who get their hopes up asking supermodels or movie stars to their high school social events. He made his disdain toward the hopeful and somewhat unrealistic headline-grabbing stories abundantly clear. In contrast, Mr. Oliver graciously acknowledged his former co-worker, Jon Stewart, saying that he, “has a pretty intense debt to him” and that he “wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for him.”
Thirty-seven year-old Oliver is faced with the challenge of keeping his new show feeling original. The premise, like that of The Daily Show follows the comedy-news paradigm. It differs in its frequency and its big network permissions, like the aforementioned free use of obscene language as well as nudity. The obscene language that has John Oliver so excited may be a part of the defining sound of the beautiful comedy that he is preparing to make with HBO starting tonight.
By Faye Barton