John Oliver (comedian)

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John Oliver
John Oliver Occupy Wall Street 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Oliver at Occupy Wall Street, October 2011
Birth nameJohn William Oliver
Born(1977-04-23) 23 April 1977 (age 36)
Birmingham, England, UK
Years active2001–present
GenresPolitical satire
SpouseKate Norley
Notable works and rolesThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Community, The Bugle, Mock The Week
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John Oliver
John Oliver Occupy Wall Street 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Oliver at Occupy Wall Street, October 2011
Birth nameJohn William Oliver
Born(1977-04-23) 23 April 1977 (age 36)
Birmingham, England, UK
Years active2001–present
GenresPolitical satire
SpouseKate Norley
Notable works and rolesThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Community, The Bugle, Mock The Week

John William Oliver[1] (born 23 April 1977)[2] is a British comedian, political satirist and actor. He is best known in America for his work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the satirical comedy podcast The Bugle.

He plays a recurring character, Professor Ian Duncan, on the television series Community. He has worked extensively with Andy Zaltzman; their body of work includes hundreds of hours of satirical podcasts and radio broadcasts, including series such as Political Animal, The Department, and The Bugle. In 2013, Oliver spent eight weeks as the guest host of The Daily Show.

Having left The Daily Show at the end of 2013.,[3] Oliver will host Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO beginning on Sunday, 27 April 2014.

Oliver is a permanent resident of the United States and lives in New York City.

Early life[edit]

Oliver was born in Birmingham, England[4] and educated in Bedford at the Mark Rutherford School.[5] His parents were teachers from Liverpool.[6] In the mid to late 1990s, Oliver was a member of the Cambridge Footlights, the comedy troupe run by students of Cambridge University, with contemporaries including David Mitchell and Richard Ayoade. In 1997 he was the Footlights vice-president.[7][8] In 1998, he graduated from Christ's College, Cambridge,[1] where he studied English.[9]



Wyatt Cenac, John Oliver and Rory Albanese after performing stand-up comedy at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in April 2009

Oliver first appeared at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2001 as part of The Comedy Zone, a late-night showcase of newer acts, where he played the character of an "oleaginous journalist."[10] He performed his debut solo show in 2002 and returned in 2003. In 2004 and 2005, he collaborated with Andy Zaltzman on a double act and co-hosting Political Animal, with various acts performing political material. After moving to New York City for The Daily Show, Oliver began performing stand-up in small clubs around the city, and later headlined shows in larger venues.[11] Oliver's first stand-up special, entitled John Oliver: Terrifying Times, debuted on Comedy Central in 2008 and was later released on DVD.[citation needed] Since 2010, Oliver has hosted four, six-episode seasons of John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show.[citation needed]

According to Edward Helmore in The Guardian: "His style leans toward the kind that Americans like best from the British – exaggerated, full of odd accents and mannerisms, in the vein of Monty Python."[12] Oliver describes his own accent as a "mongrel" of Brummie, Scouse and Bedford influences.[13]

Mock The Week[edit]

Prior to joining The Daily Show, Oliver was making appearances on British television as a panellist on the satirical news quiz Mock The Week. He was the most frequent guest on the first two series in 2005 and 2006, appearing in 7 out of 11 episodes.[citation needed]

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart[edit]

Oliver and Wyatt Cenac at the launch of Earth (The Book).

Oliver joined The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as its Senior British Correspondent in July 2006. He says he got interviewed for the show on the recommendation of comedian Ricky Gervais, who had never met Oliver but was familiar with his work.[14] He landed in America on a Sunday night and started working the next day.[15] As a writer for the show, Oliver has received Emmys for outstanding writing in 2009, 2011 and 2012.[16]

During the summer of 2013, Oliver guest-hosted The Daily Show for a total of eight weeks while Stewart directed his movie Rosewater.[17] Oliver's performance received positive reviews,[18][19][20][21] with some critics suggesting that he should eventually succeed Stewart as host of The Daily Show or receive his own show.[22][23][24] Three months later, HBO announced it was giving Oliver his own late night show.[3]

Last Week Tonight[edit]

Beginning on Sunday, 27 April 2014, Oliver will host Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a late-night talk show that will take a satirical look at news, politics and current events.[25]

The Bugle[edit]

Since October 2007 Oliver has co-hosted The Bugle, a weekly satirical comedy podcast, with Andy Zaltzman. Originally produced by The Times of London, it is now independent. Its 200th episode aired on 13 July 2012.[26]

John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show[edit]

Since 2010, Oliver has hosted John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show, a standup series on Comedy Central featuring sets from himself and other standup comedians.[27] Four seasons of the show have been produced through 2013, the first three lasting six episodes and the most recent lasting eight.

Television acting[edit]

Oliver has a recurring role on the NBC comedy Community as Dr. Ian Duncan, a psychology professor.[28] However, he declined becoming a regular cast member of the series because he did not want to leave The Daily Show for it. As of December 2013, it was however stated that Oliver would come back on the show's 5th season premiering 2 January, for at least a six episode arc.[29] [30]

As a boy, Oliver played the orphan Felix Pardiggle on the BBC drama Bleak House in 1985.[31]

Oliver has also worked on Gravity Falls as the voice of Sherlock Holmes (season 1, episode 3), People Like Us as a bank manager (season 2, episode 5), Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja as the voice of Coach Green (season 1, episode 9), My Hero as a man from the BBC (season 2, episode 5), and Green Wing as a car salesman (season 1, episode 1).

Oliver will guest star as Wilkes John Booth in a 25th season episode of the long-running FOX television sitcom The Simpsons.[32][33]


In 2008, Oliver was given his first film role, playing Dick Pants in The Love Guru.[34] He later voiced Vanity Smurf in The Smurfs film and its sequel.[35]

Other work[edit]

Oliver wrote and presented a BBC America campaign to have viewers use closed captioning (subtitles). Shown in brief segments before shows, "The following program contains accents you would have heard a lot more if you hadn't thrown our tea into Boston Harbour," says one. "Not even British people can follow the British accent 100 percent of the time. Therefore you, like me, might want to use closed-captioning." Oliver used some of these jokes in his stand-up routine.[36]

John Oliver frequently appeared on the BBC Radio 5 Live sports show Fighting Talk.

Oliver performed various roles in the 2009 Comedy Central series Important Things with Demetri Martin.

In 2009, Oliver made a cameo appearance as the actor Rip Torn in the music video for the Fiery Furnaces single "Even in the Rain", which is based around the story of the making of the film Easy Rider.[37]

In 2013, Oliver spent time filming in Australia, claiming in a podcast it was "a sensational place, albeit one of the most comfortably racist places I've ever been in. They've really settled into their intolerance like an old resentful slipper."[38]

Personal life[edit]

As of 2010, John Oliver lives in New York with his wife Kate Norley, an Iraq War veteran who served as a US Army medic.[39] Oliver has said that they met at the 2008 Republican National Convention; he was doing a piece for The Daily Show and Norley was campaigning with Vets for Freedom. She and other veterans hid Oliver, the other correspondents, and the camera crew from security.[40][41]

Oliver's status as an immigrant placed certain constraints on what he could do in his adopted country, but also provided him with comedy material as he poked fun at the opacity and occasional absurdity of the process of attaining US citizenship. Oliver was one of the many writers on the picket lines during the Writers' Guild strike which brought The Daily Show to a halt,[42] but he appeared on the show upon its resuming production on 7 January 2008. During a sketch, he pointed out that he is in the US on a visa that requires him not to strike while the show is in production and violation of the terms of the visa would be grounds for deportation. When asked about his immigration status in early 2009, Oliver said, "It's an ongoing, and slightly unsettling, battle to be honest. I tried engraving 'Give me your tired, your poor, and your aspiring comic performers' into the base of the Statue of Liberty, but apparently that's not legally binding."[43] In an episode of The Bugle released 31 October 2009, Oliver announced he "finally got approved for [his] green card," noting that now he can "get arrested filming bits for The Daily Show".[44] He says he was given a scare when applying at the US embassy in London, when an immigration officer asked, "Give me one good reason I should let you back in to insult my country," followed by, "Oh, I'm just kidding, I love the show." He now refers to Americans as "us" or "you" as each segment demands.[45]


  1. ^ a b "Reporter 8/7/98: Congregations of the Regent House on 26 and 27 June 1998". Cambridge University Reporter. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  2. ^ "John Oliver Biography". Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie (14 November 2013). "'Daily Show's John Oliver To Host Weekly Comedy Talk Show For HBO". Deadline. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Usborne, David (7 April 2010). "Made in Manhattan: John Oliver on taking satire stateside". The Independent (UK). 
  5. ^ "Interview with John Oliver". The Guardian (London). 23 July 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2009. 
  6. ^ Bill Young (7 March 2011). "Ten Minutes with John Oliver". Retrieved 7 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "Cambridge Footlights Alumni, 1990–1999". Cambridge Footlights. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Freeman, Hadley (19 October 2012). "David Mitchell: goodbye lonely nerd". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  9. ^ "Oliver's Twist on These ‘Terrifying Times’". The Tech. MIT. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Czajkowski, Elise (22 July 2013). "A Look Back at John Oliver's Pre-'Daily Show' Work". Retrieved 26 July 2013. 
  11. ^ "Oliver twisted – Time Out New York Issue 593". 8 February 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2009. 
  12. ^ "Interview with John Oliver". The Guardian. UK. 22 July 2007. Retrieved 7 July 2012. 
  13. ^ Marsh, Steve (7 June 2013). "John Oliver on Hosting The Daily Show and Being Less of a Mean Brit While Doing So". New York blog Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  14. ^ Usborne, David (7 April 2010). "Made in Manhattan: John Oliver on taking satire stateside". The Independent. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Blake, Meredith (7 June 2013). "'The Daily Show': Brit John Oliver temps at a late-night desk job". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "Primetime Emmy Award Database". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  17. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (5 March 2013). "Update: Jon Stewart Taking Summer ‘Daily Show’ Hiatus To Direct First Film And "Challenge" Himself, John Oliver To Sub". Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  18. ^ Paskin, Willa (14 June 2013). "Jon Stewart who?: John Oliver's "Daily Show" is almost too good". Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  19. ^ Grant, Drew (28 June 2013). "The Daily Show Down: Why John Oliver Is the Best Thing to Happen to Late Night Since Colbert". The New York Observer. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  20. ^ Carlson, Erin (11 June 2013). "'Daily Show': John Oliver Makes Hilarious Debut as Host". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  21. ^ Molloy, Tim (10 June 2013). "Review: John Oliver's 'Daily Show' Is Sharp as Ever". Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  22. ^ Fox, Jesse David (15 August 2013). "We Can Now Consider John Oliver The Daily Show's Heir Apparent". Vulture. New York Magazine. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  23. ^ Busis, Hillary (16 August 2013). "John Oliver bids farewell to 'Daily Show' hosting gig – how'd he do?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  24. ^ Holpuch, Amanda (11 June 2013). "John Oliver hosts The Daily Show without Jon Stewart – triumphantly". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  25. ^ Patten, Dominic (12 February 2014). "HBO Sets Name & Date For John Oliver Debut". Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  26. ^ Coates, Sam; Elliott, Francis; Watson, Roland. "The Bugle – Audio Newspaper for a Visual World". The Times (London). Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  27. ^ "Comedy Central gives John Oliver his own standup comedy series". Los Angeles Times. 18 November 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  28. ^ "Rating NBC's new fall shows: 'Parenthood,' a 'Trauma,' a 'Community,' '100 Questions,' and oh 'Mercy'!". Entertainment Weekly. 4 May 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2009. 
  29. ^ Ryan, Patrick (31-12-2013). "John Oliver Resumes his Community Tenure." Chicago Sun Times ( Retrieved 16-01-2014.
  30. ^ Ryan, Patrick (10-12-2013). "Sneak Peek: John Oliver Returns to 'Community'." Retrieved 01-16-2014.
  31. ^ "'Daily Show' star John Oliver heads to Irvine". Orange County Register. 23 November 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  32. ^ TVLine - Exclusive: The Simpsons Targets Daily Show's John Oliver to Play 'Wilkes John Booth' Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  33. ^ ScreenCrush - ‘THE SIMPSONS’ RENEWED FOR SEASON 26, JOHN OLIVER TO GUEST IN SEASON 25 Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  34. ^ "Oliver's movie break". 5 September 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2009. 
  35. ^ "Smurfs casting update: 'SNL' cast and John Oliver join voice cast". Entertainment Weekly. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  36. ^ "Translated from the British". 21 May 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2008. 
  37. ^ "Video Premiere:The Fiery Furnaces: "Even in the Rain"". Pitchfork. 3 December 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  38. ^ "Australia 'most comfortably racist' country, says British comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Oliver". 16 April 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  39. ^ Slonim, Jeffrey (3 October 2010). "The Daily Show's John Oliver Is Engaged". People. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  40. ^ "John Oliver Radio Interview". 3 June 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2009. 
  41. ^ "John Oliver Interview part 1". Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  42. ^ "John Oliver, Writer". 15 October 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2008. 
  43. ^ "John Oliver: Comic Crumpet". 13 January 2009. Retrieved 14 January 2009. 
  44. ^ Wright, Tom (31 October 2009). "The Bugle #94: Does the EU really want El Presidente Blair?". The Times (London). Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  45. ^ Burkeman, Oliver (7 June 2013). "John Oliver: a very British coup". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Jon Stewart
Host of The Daily Show

10 June 2013 – 15 August 2013
Succeeded by
Jon Stewart