John William Oliver (born 23 April 1977) is an English comedian, writer, producer, podcaster, actor, media critic, and television host. 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 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.
Oliver was born in Erdington, a suburb of Birmingham, and educated in Bedford at the Mark Rutherford School. His parents were teachers from Liverpool. 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. In 1998, he graduated from Christ's College, Cambridge, where he read English.
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." 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. Oliver's first stand-up special, entitled John Oliver: Terrifying Times, debuted on Comedy Central in 2008 and was later released on DVD. Since 2010, Oliver has hosted four seasons of John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show.
According to Edward Helmore in The Guardian: "His style leans toward the kind that Americans like best from the British â" exaggerated, full of odd accents and mannerisms, in the vein of Monty Python." Oliver describes his own accent as a "mongrel" of Brummie, Scouse and Bedford influences.
Mock the Week
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.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
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. 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. Oliver received Emmys for outstanding writing in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
During the summer of 2013, Oliver guest-hosted The Daily Show for a total of eight weeks while Stewart directed his movie Rosewater. Oliver's performance received positive reviews, with some critics suggesting that he should eventually succeed Stewart as host of The Daily Show or receive his own show. CBS discussed the possibility of Oliver replacing Craig Ferguson on The Late Late Show. Three months after his Daily Show hosting, HBO announced it was giving Oliver his own late night show.
Last Week Tonight
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. 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. His work on the show led to Oliver being named on the list of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" in 2015.
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. The show is downloaded over 500,000 times a month.
John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show
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. Four seasons of the show were produced through 2013, the first three lasting six episodes and the final lasting eight.
Oliver has a recurring role on the NBC comedy Community as Dr. Ian Duncan, a psychology professor. 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.
As a boy, Oliver played Felix Pardiggle, a minor role in the BBC drama Bleak House in 1985.
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.
In 2008, Oliver was given his first film role, playing Dick Pants in The Love Guru. He later voiced Vanity Smurf in The Smurfs film and its sequel.
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.
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.
As of 2010, Oliver lives in New York with his wife Kate Norley, an Iraq War veteran who served as a US Army medic. 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. Oliver is a fan of both American and British sports and supports the New York Mets and the New York Jets.
Oliver's status as an alien 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 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, 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." 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". 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.
Awards and nominations
- John Oliver's Official Website
- John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show at Comedy Central
- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver's channel on YouTube
- John Oliver Biography at The Daily Show
- John Oliver at Comedy Central (Comedians)
- John Oliver at the Internet Movie Database
- John Oliver collected news and commentary at The Guardian