The first time I saw Daily Show correspondent John Oliver was at the UCB during their Best Comedy in the Universe Festival. During his half hour set, there was no thirty-second period where the audience wasn't laughing uproariously. From that alone I can say that Oliver is a tremendous talent and I can't wait to see him take the mic once again.
Which of your Daily Show assignments has been your favorite thus far?
I particularly liked the Bush/ Lincoln comparison that we did a couple of weeks ago. That was good fun to do. And breaking my nose whilst charging at the Confederate army takes some beating.
Are there any issues that you'd like to tackle on The Daily Show that you've yet to tackle?
I will tackle any issue. I see myself very much as the Reggie White of satire. If any issue tries to run through me, I will smack that shit down before dancing arrogantly over the now unconscious issue shouting ‘not in my house, baby’. I have made myself the promise that my work at the Daily Show will not be done until I have tackled every issue known to man and three others.
Prior to moving to America, what was your perception of the US?
My political perception of the US was similar to that of the rest of the planet which was ‘what on earth are you doing?’ To paraphrase Oscar Wilde; ‘To elect him once was unfortunate – to elect him twice was un-fucking-believable’.
How has it changed since the move?
It’s been interesting being on the inside looking out. I don’t think the rest of the world appreciates just how divided this country is. America is presented to us foreigners very much as a united front, which clearly couldn’t be further from the truth. And this is where the current worrying trend of anti-Americanism is fostered – it is too easy to forget that not only do many people here have to live with a president whom they didn’t elect, but they also have to live with the people who did. That this country has not once more erupted into civil war shows admirable restraint. It does seem a shame that some of the most wonderful things this nation was built on – free speech, a questioning of authority, and non conformity have somehow been twisted into being labeled ‘Un-American’.
What are some aspects of American Culture that you enjoy that aren't found in the UK?
You have something here called ‘decent food’ which could really catch on back in the UK if people just gave it a chance.
Are there, perhaps, some things you'd like to see American's adapt from the British or Vice Versa?
Well you adapted our desire to rule the world extremely well. In return, I think we should take ‘2 and a half Men’.
Many British television start off as radio shows. Do you think that this is a good production method? Why or why not?
I do think it’s a great idea. Radio offers you far more control, which means that you don’t have to deal with as much interference from wherever it is exactly that interference always seems to come from. Also, not having to worry about the logistics of shooting a joke opens up a world of infinite possibility and means that the most important thing to concentrate on is the script. I co-wrote a radio series in Britain called ‘The Department’ where we could have 1000 seals performing an interpretative dance about what mankind was doing to their habitat, before having another sketch where we were shot out of a water canon at a crowd of protestors. Television is necessarily more disciplined, and it’s good to be able to do literally anything first, before having to worry about whether or not it is possible.
America has a reputation of adapting British shows, such as The Office or Men Behaving Badly. What are some shows that you'd like to see adapted?
There’s a program called ‘Look Around You’ which you should have a crack at. Their first series had superb 10-minute episodes about different areas of science. If you’re not going to remake it, then the least you could do is show it.
Do you remember the US Men Behaving Badly? I get the feeling that everyone forgot that that was a show. Rob Schneider was in it. What do you think of his films?
I don’t remember that. Although I am aware of Mr Schneider and his canon of work. I don’t want to speak out of line, but subtlety does not seem to be a regular bedfellow of his.
Could you come up with a premise for a Rob Schneider film right now?
I could do that, but I feel that’s something best left to Robert himself.
What is the British equivalent of a Rob Schneider film?
I’m not sure where this Rob Schneider fascination is coming from. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in interviews dominated by Rob Schneider questions before, but never quite to this extent. I guess our nearest equivalent to a Rob Schneider film was probably the Battle of the Somme.
Do you have aspirations of writing or acting in films someday?
I have aspirations not only of doing that, but of taking over the very concept of film itself. What I will do with it from that point on is between me, my Military Advisers, and my Line Producer.
What sort of acting training do you have?
None. If you haven’t noticed by now, I have absolutely no range whatsoever. I merely operate in degrees of loudness.
What did you study in Cambridge?
Do you plan on getting a website or blog in the future?
Maybe a website. Although johnoliver.com is currently owned by two interior designers from Reno, Nevada. Their names are John and Jennifer Oliver and do visit their site, especially if you live in the Reno area, and are interested in their philosophy of ‘creating a total environment through living color, interior space planning, texture, carpet, furniture, drapery and fabric’. Instead I have bought the address mrjohnoliver.com. I’m going to try to lead a new wave of formality on the internet, which up to this point has been overly familiar. I haven’t done anything with the address yet – but when I do be prepared for increased politeness across the superhighway.
Do you plan on working with Daniel Kitson again? What was it like working with Daniel?
I’ve never worked with Daniel in any formal sense. He’s my best friend, so he regularly takes things that I’ve said to him and repeats them on stage, passing these ideas off as his own. But he assures me this is entirely normal. He came over here to watch the Superbowl on TV with me. He bought an entire cheesecake with much big talk of how he was going to eat the whole thing. Rest assured, over ¾ of it remain in my fridge at the moment.
What do you like to do after a performance?
Go home and repent.