John Oliver | Interview
Tue Jun 12 2012
British comedian John Oliver moved stateside in 2006 for The Daily Show. When not reporting for Comedy Central, Oliver works in TV, film and stand-up; he performs during the Just for Laughs Festival at the Vic on June 15. For his movie debut, he played Dick Pants in the Mike Myers vehicle The Love Guru, Razzie Award winner for Worst Picture of 2009. That same year (and again in 2011), Oliver won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Series as part of The Daily Show’s writing staff. A day after our originally scheduled interview, the 35-year-old called at 7:30am before meeting with his fellow writers. I began by asking about his romance (wedding?) with Kate Norley, a former Army medic in the Iraq War.
So…did you get married?
I heard you were getting married and then never heard anything again.
[Laughs] In which case that was a really bold first question to ask because that also could have gone a different way.
I was going to say, “Congratulations on getting married,” but I thought, What if you guys broke up…?
Good idea. You basically have to inflect up to put a kind of a verbal question mark in there. Yeah, I did, I did. I got married at the end of last year.
I assume you blew me off yesterday because it was the last day of the queen of England’s jubilee?
Listen, I was in full celebration mode. I can’t do interviews when I’m that happy. Sixty years of not dying even once. Not even once did she die in that time. The queen has a titanium spine.
Because she has no feelings.
That’s right. That is the key to longevity, is having no visible emotion whatsoever. The queen is an emotional volcano. She has not expressed a single emotion—positive or negative—her entire lifetime. The day she dies, she’s just going to erupt and tell England to go fuck itself and die.
You’re at Daily Show World Headquarters right now?
I am, yeah. I am in the epicenter.
Are plans underway for Indecision 2012?
Yeah. We’re working up to the conventions, which will be at the end of August and the start of September. That’s the major event because it means we’re doing the show on the road for two consecutive weeks. And then we’ll do a live show election night. But yeah, we’re in full election mode. We kind of have been all year. We were staying late most nights watching these interminable debates and primaries coming in with the circus of candidates that was the Republican nominees this year.
I think Barack’s got it.
I think if he’s as confident as you are, he might have trouble. I think it’s always closer than anyone would like to give them credit for besides. He did not win by much last time.
I think Michelle doing push-ups on Ellen was enough for him to go over the top.
It would be such a confident move to take his billion-dollar campaign chest onto Ellen. So his wife can do push-ups next to it.
Did you miss getting to guest star on Community this season as Professor Ian Duncan?
Yeah, I did. They have to work around my Daily Show schedule and they’ve been great on that in the past, but we just couldn’t work it out this time. I love that show.
What do you think about the departure of Community’s creator and showrunner, Dan Harmon?
It’s really sad. But it’s so good, what he’s made, that I think there’s a chance that it will even be okay without him there. It’s one of the boldest, funniest shows on TV, I think. So I would love to see it survive. It would be very depressing if it doesn’t make it.
You did a show at Northwestern a few weeks ago. Have you been able to take in Chicago’s comedy scene?
Not really because I don’t get to stay for long. I got to do the Lakeshore Theater before it closed down; that was really fun. The rest of the time I’m either coming in for one night of stand-up or to interview various people in and around Chicago, including the Right Honorable Rod Blagojevich. I’ve interviewed him a couple of times. It was incredible. Last time we were doing something about the runaway Wisconsin senators. He said, “I can do an interview but it has to be outside in a gazebo in a park. Okay?” [Laughs] “Okay. I’ll meet you in the gazebo, but I’ve got a horrible feeling I’m about to get whacked.”
Who do you think would win in a fight: John Oliver or Jamie Oliver?
Jamie Oliver has such good nutrition. I’m guessing it would be him because he knows his way around five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
I just feel like he has no anger. Aren’t all his kids named, like, Blueberry Sunshine?
[Laughs] I don’t know.
I’m looking it up right now. Poppy Honey Rosie is one child.
Second child is Daisy Boo Pamela.
Third one is Petal Blossom Rainbow.
Oh, no. Oh, no.
And the fourth one, the boy—Buddy Bear Maurice.
Uhhhgh. Good luck, buddy. Good luck, kids.
I think your kids can beat up his kids even though your kids aren’t even real yet.
My unborn children are already looking to give them all wedgies.
John Oliver plays Just for Laughs Friday 15 at the Vic.
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