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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 name John William Oliver
Born (1977-04-23) 23 April 1977 (age 38)
Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
Medium Stand-up, film, television
Nationality British
Years active 1998–present
Genres Political satire/news satire, observational comedy, blue comedy, self-deprecation, sarcasm, cringe comedy
Subject(s) Mass media/news media/media criticism, American politics, current events, religion, race relations, human sexuality, civil rights
Influences Jon Stewart,[1] Armando Iannucci, David Letterman, Monty Python, Peter Cook, Richard Pryor[2]
Spouse Kate Norley (m. 2011)
Website iamjohnoliver.com

John William Oliver (born 23 April 1977) is a British comedian, political commentator, television host, and occasional actor. He is widely known in the U.S. for hosting HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and for his work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He also co-hosts the satirical comedy podcast The Bugle and hosted John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show on Comedy Central. In 2013, Oliver spent eight weeks as the guest host of The Daily Show. Oliver then left the show at the end of 2013[3] and began hosting Last Week Tonight on 27 April 2014. 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.

Early life[edit]

Oliver was born in Erdington, a suburb of Birmingham,[4] and educated in Bedford at the Mark Rutherford School.[5] He is the son of Carole, a music teacher, and Jim Oliver, school headmaster and social worker, both originally from Liverpool.[6][7] His uncle was composer Stephen Oliver, and his paternal great-great-grandfather was William Boyd Carpenter, a Bishop of Ripon and court chaplain to Queen Victoria.[7][8] 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 troupe's vice president.[9][10] In 1998, he graduated from Christ's College, Cambridge,[11] where he read English.[12]

Career[edit]

Stand-up[edit]

Wyatt Cenac, John Oliver and Rory Albanese after performing 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."[13] 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.[14] 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 seasons of John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show.[15]

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."[16] Oliver describes his own accent as a "mongrel" of Brummie, Scouse and Bedford influences.[17]

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.[13] He was a frequent guest on the first two series in 2005 and 2006, appearing in 7 out of 11 episodes.[18]

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart[edit]

Oliver and Wyatt Cenac at the launch of Earth.

Oliver joined The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as its Senior British Correspondent in July 2006. He says he was interviewed for the show on the recommendation of comedian Ricky Gervais, who had never met Oliver but was familiar with his work.[19] It was his first time in the United States. Two weeks after the interview, he got the job, flying from London to New York on a Sunday and unexpectedly appearing on camera the very next day.[20][21] Oliver received Emmys for outstanding writing in 2009, 2011 and 2012.[22]

During the summer of 2013, Oliver guest-hosted The Daily Show for a total of eight weeks while Stewart directed his movie Rosewater.[23] Oliver's performance received positive reviews,[24][25][26][27] with some critics suggesting that he should eventually succeed Stewart as host of The Daily Show or receive his own show.[28][29][30] CBS discussed the possibility of Oliver replacing Craig Ferguson on The Late Late Show.[20] Three months after his Daily Show hosting, HBO announced it was giving Oliver his own late night show.[3]

Last Week Tonight[edit]

Oliver began hosting Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on 27 April 2014, a late-night talk show that takes a satirical look at news, politics and current events.[31] His contract with HBO lasts two years with an option for more. Oliver says he has full creative freedom, including free rein to criticise corporations, given HBO's ad-free subscription model.[20] His work on the show led to Oliver being named on the list of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" in 2015.[32]

The Bugle[edit]

Main article: The Bugle

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.[33] The show is downloaded over 500,000 times a month.[34]

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

From 2010 to 2013, Oliver hosted John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show, a standup series on Comedy Central that featured sets from himself and other standup comedians.[35] Four seasons of the show were produced through 2013, the first three lasting six episodes and the final lasting eight.

Television acting[edit]

Oliver has a recurring role on the NBC comedy Community as Dr. Ian Duncan, a psychology professor.[36] However, he declined becoming a regular cast member of the series because he did not want to leave The Daily Show for it. He did not appear in the show's third and fourth seasons, but returned in season five, appearing in seven of its 13 episodes.[37][38]

As a boy, Oliver played Felix Pardiggle, a minor role in the BBC drama Bleak House in 1985.[39]

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 guest starred as Booth Wilkes-John in a 25th season episode of the long-running FOX television sitcom The Simpsons.[40][41]

Film[edit]

In 2008, Oliver was given his first film role, playing Dick Pants in The Love Guru.[42] He later voiced Vanity Smurf in The Smurfs film and its sequel.[43]

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.[44]

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

In 2003, Oliver manned the "results desk" on an election night episode of Armando Iannucci's satirical show Gash on Channel 4.

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.[45]

Personal life[edit]

As of 2010, Oliver lives in New York with his wife Kate Norley, an Iraq War veteran who served as a US Army medic.[46] 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.[47][48] Oliver is a fan of both American and British sports and supports the New York Mets and the New York Jets.[49]

Oliver's immigration status 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 obtaining US residency. Oliver was one of the many writers on the picket lines during the Writers' Guild strike which brought The Daily Show to a halt,[50] yet he appeared on the show upon its resuming production on 7 January 2008. During a sketch, he pointed out that he was then in the US on a visitors' 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 residency 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."[51] In an episode of The Bugle released 31 October 2009, Oliver announced he "finally got approved for [his] green card" (for US residency), noting that now he can "get arrested filming bits for The Daily Show".[52] Oliver 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." Since then, he referred to Americans as "us" or "you" as each segment demanded.[53]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2008 The Love Guru Dick Pants
2011 Moves: The Rise and Rise of the New Pornographers Protest Leader Short film
2011 Smurfs, TheThe Smurfs Vanity Smurf (voice)
2013 The Smurfs 2 Vanity Smurf (voice)
2013 The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow Vanity Smurf (voice) Short film

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1985 Bleak House Felix Pardiggle Episode: "1.2"
2001 People Like Us Bank Manager Episode: "The Bank Manager"
2001 My Hero Man from BBC Episode: "Pregnant"
2003 Gash Himself Episode: "1.4"
2004 Green Wing Car Salesman Episode: "Caroline's First Date"
2005 The Comic Side of 7 Days Himself 6 episodes
2005–2006 Mock the Week Panelist 7 episodes
2006–2013 The Daily Show Himself (correspondent) 388 episodes; also writer and host (for 31 days)
2008 Terrifying Times Himself Stand-up special
2009 Important Things with Demetri Martin Various Roles 2 episodes
2009–2011, 2014 Community Ian Duncan 19 episodes
2010–2013 John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show Himself (host) 26 episodes; also creator, writer, executive producer
2012 Gravity Falls Wax Sherlock Holmes (voice) Episode: "Headhunters"
2012–2013 Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja Coach Green (voice) 4 episodes
2013 Rick and Morty Dr. Xenon Bloom (voice) Episode: "Anatomy Park"
2014–present Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Himself (host) Also writer and executive producer
2014 The Simpsons Booth Wilkes-John (voice) Episode: "Pay Pal"
2014 Robot Chicken Serpentor (voice) Episode: "G.I. Jogurt"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Nominated work Result
2008 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program The Daily Show Nominated
2009 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series The Daily Show Nominated
2009 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program The Daily Show Won
2010 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series The Daily Show Won
2010 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program The Daily Show Nominated
2011 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series The Daily Show Nominated
2011 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Special Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear Nominated
2011 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program The Daily Show Won
2012 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series The Daily Show Nominated
2012 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program The Daily Show Won
2013 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series The Daily Show Nominated
2013 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program The Daily Show Nominated
2014 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series[54] The Daily Show Nominated
2014 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program[55] The Daily Show Nominated
2015 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series[56] The Daily Show Nominated
2015 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series[56] Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Won
2015 Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television[57] Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Nominated
2015 Dorian Award for TV Current Affairs Show of the Year[58] Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Nominated
2015 Dorian Award for Wilde Wit of the Year[58] Won
2015 Peabody Award[59] Won
2015 Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Talk Show[60] Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Nominated
2015 TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in News and Information[61] Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Won
2015 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Pending
2015 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Talk Series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Pending

References[edit]

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External links[edit]