John Oliver: More than the way he talks is funny
'Daily Show' correspondent John Oliver brings his standup act to the Paramount
If you saw `Terrifying Times,' John Oliver's Comedy Central special that also was released on DVD, you have a good idea of what you're in for when he takes over the Paramount Theatre for two shows Saturday: less `Daily Show' senior British correspondent, more worldly, wry and informed standup comedy. Yes, he's been on `The Daily Show' for four years, but he's been doing comedy a lot longer than that.
We sent Oliver a few stupid questions via e-mail. Here's the exchange.
Austin American-Statesman: Why do you talk like that? Were you a Beatle?
John Oliver: Basically, yes. The Beatles are now so important to the U.K. that each of the four positions is essentially hereditary. As a British person whose family is from Liverpool, I believe I am now roughly 1,629th in line to becoming George Harrison. As to why I talk like this, it's a good question. All I know is that I came out of the womb wearing a monocle and a top hat, and immediately introduced myself to the midwife and thanked her for a flawless delivery, using this accent.
I know you've done political material in your stand-up, but how does that translate into faux journalism on `The Daily Show?'
The two are very different. Stand-up is a much more direct process. Writing for `The Daily Show' means you have a much different and more complicated toy box of things to play with; such as footage, graphics, and the puppet Jon Stewart that has been hosting the show since 2004, when the real one got tired.
Sometimes when you go somewhere you're not welcome in a segment on the show, you seem on the verge of physical harm. Have you actually been afraid in the field?
Not really. There have certainly been moments when I've begun to wonder whether I was 100 percent safe, but the way I see it, as long as I'm over 50 percent safe, the odds are in my favor.
Do you consider Britishness to be a key component of your work? How much, if at all, do you exaggerate it?
I wouldn't say it's a key component. It's like putting a bay leaf in a lasagne. It's not essential, but it's nice to have.
So many stand-ups would kill for a sitcom, and `TDS' alums such as Ed Helms and Steve Carell have made moves in that direction. Any such ambition on your part?
`I'm honestly happy where I am. Working for `The Daily Show' can be all-consuming, and absolutely exhausting at times, but there's nowhere I'd rather be. It's the best job I've ever had.
Ever been to Austin? What are you planning to do here? If you say `ride a sheep' I'm afraid we'll have to send you to College Station.
I was actually in Austin once - on Valentine's Day last year for the strangest night of my life. I was doing a benefit gig for President Clinton and ended up spending the evening with him. So it literally can't be weirder than that. As for the `ride a sheep' comment; I don't understand the reference, so I guess it'll be safer to just say it as much as possible while on stage, is that right?
When: 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday (8 p.m. tecnhnically sold out)
Where: Paramount Theater