Catching up with...John Oliver
Tue Jul 21 2009
The British political stand-up is in his element at The Daily Show, which is why, in spite of a successful solo career and a role in the new Chevy Chase pilot Community, just picked up by NBC, Oliver is staying put.
You’re forced to watch hours of insipid cable news and focus your attention on the most vacuous side of the American news cycle. Have you grown despondent? Have you lost faith in journalism?
I definitely watch more cable news than is medically advisable for the human soul. That is bound to have a corrosive effect. And to be honest, after your fifth straight hour of watching, you lose the capacity to be disappointed by it anymore. It is very, very bad. But I still have faith in journalism, even if that is based on nothing other than a completely unsubstantiated hope—cable news certainly got bored of Iran pretty quickly after Michael Jackson died; and they’re not showing signs of interest in it again.
Would your stand-up material focus less on current events if you weren’t also employed at The Daily Show?
I think I’d be doing fairly similar material regardless. I was doing broadly political stand-up before I got offered the job over here. The beauty is that, having been on the show, people tend to turn up to my gigs knowing what to expect. In the past, I have disappointed many a stag night who turned up to a comedy club to get drunk, not listen to some needlessly verbose comedian pontificate about the world.
Tell us a bit about Community.
I did the pilot, as I thought it’d be a fun thing to try. The people on it are very funny: Joel McHale is great, and Chevy Chase is Chevy Chase. I don’t mind doing acting jobs every now and again; it’s a nice change of pace. But I don’t think I’ll be doing the series. I’m certainly not leaving The Daily Show for it.
Any other upcoming roles we should know about?
Not really. I’m still just concentrating on not getting fired from the job I’m in.—Jane Borden
John Oliver headlines Comix Fri 24 and Sun 26.