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John Oliver

John William Oliver (born 23 April 1977)[3] is an English comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and television host.

John Oliver
John Oliver November 2016.jpg
Oliver in November 2016
Birth name John William Oliver
Born (1977-04-23) 23 April 1977 (age 41)
Erdington, Birmingham, England
Medium
  • Stand-up
  • television
  • film
  • books
Alma mater Christ's College, Cambridge
Years active 1998–present
Genres
Subject(s)
Spouse
Kate Norley (m. 2011)
Children 2[1][2]
Website www.iamjohnoliver.com

Oliver started his career as a stand-up comedian, both in the United Kingdom and United States. He came to wider attention for his work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as its senior British correspondent from 2006 to 2013. Oliver won three Primetime Emmy Awards for his work as a writer on The Daily Show and was its guest host for an eight-week period in 2013. In addition to The Daily Show, Oliver co-hosted the satirical comedy podcast The Bugle (2007–2015) with Andy Zaltzman, with whom Oliver had previously co-hosted the radio series Political Animal, and hosted John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show on Comedy Central from 2010 to 2013. He has also acted on television, most notably in a recurring role as Ian Duncan on the NBC sitcom Community.

Since 2014, Oliver has been the host of the HBO series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. He has received widespread critical and popular recognition for his work on the series, whose influence over US culture, legislation and policymaking has been dubbed the "John Oliver effect".[4][5] For his work on Last Week Tonight, Oliver has won six Emmy Awards and two Peabody Awards and was included in the 2015 Time 100, being described as a 'comedic agent of change...powerful because he isn’t afraid to tackle important issues thoughtfully, without fear or apology.'[6][7]

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Oliver was born on 23 April 1977 in Erdington, West Midlands, England,[8] to Carole and Jim Oliver. His father worked as both a school headmaster and social worker, his mother was a music teacher. Both of his parents are originally from Liverpool, Merseyside. His uncle was the composer Stephen Oliver, and a paternal great-great-grandfather was William Boyd Carpenter, Bishop of Ripon and court chaplain to Queen Victoria.[6][9]

Since childhood, he has been a fan of Liverpool FC, noting in interviews that "my mum's family are from Knotty Ash and my dad's family are from the Wirral, so supporting Liverpool was very much not a choice".[10] As a child, Oliver was educated in Bedford at the Mark Rutherford School.[11][12][6]

Following secondary school, he studied at Christ's College, Cambridge. While a student there in the mid-to-late 1990s, Oliver was a member of the Cambridge Footlights, the university theatrical club run by students of Cambridge University. Oliver's contemporaries in the troupe included David Mitchell and Richard Ayoade. In 1997, he became the club's vice president.[13][14] In 1998, Oliver graduated from Christ's College with a degree in English.[15][16]

CareerEdit

Stand-upEdit

 
Wyatt Cenac, John Oliver, and Rory Albanese after performing comedy at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in April 2009

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".[17] At the Festival and similar venues, Oliver frequently worked with other members of the Chocolate Milk Gang, a group of comedians who often collaborated and performed with one another, including Daniel Kitson, Russell Howard, David O’Doherty, and Alun Cochrane.[18][19][20] 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.[21] Oliver's first stand-up special, titled John Oliver: Terrifying Times, debuted on Comedy Central in 2008 and was later released on DVD.[22] Since 2010, Oliver has hosted four seasons of John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show.[23] In 2013, he went to Afghanistan on a USO tour to perform stand-up for the troops there.[24][25][26]

According to Edward Helmore in The Guardian, "His style leans toward the kind that Americans like best from the British – exaggerated, full of odd accents and mannerisms, in the vein of Monty Python."[11] Oliver has used his British culture as a primary subject of his jokes.[27][28] Oliver describes his own accent as a "mongrel" of Brummie, Scouse, and Bedford influences.[29]

Oliver continues to perform stand up.[30]

Mock the WeekEdit

Prior to joining The Daily Show, Oliver was making appearances on British television as a panellist on the satirical news quiz Mock the Week.[17] He was a frequent guest on the first two series in 2005 and 2006, appearing in 7 out of 11 episodes.[17]

The Daily Show with Jon StewartEdit

 
Oliver and Wyatt Cenac at the launch of Earth

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.[31] 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 next day.[32][33] Oliver received Emmy Awards for outstanding writing in 2009, 2011, and 2012.[34]

During the summer of 2013, Oliver guest-hosted The Daily Show for eight weeks while Stewart directed his movie Rosewater.[35] Oliver's performance received positive reviews,[36][37][38][39] with some critics suggesting that he should eventually succeed Stewart as host of The Daily Show or receive his own show.[40][41][42] CBS discussed the possibility of Oliver replacing Craig Ferguson on The Late Late Show.[32] Three months after his Daily Show hosting, HBO announced it was giving Oliver his own late-night show.[43]

The BugleEdit

From October 2007 to May 2015, Oliver co-hosted The Bugle, a weekly satirical comedy podcast, with Andy Zaltzman. Originally produced by The Times of London, it became an independent project in 2012. Its 200th episode aired on 13 July 2012.[44] The show reached a download count of 500,000 times a month.[45]

John Oliver's New York Stand-Up ShowEdit

From 2010 to 2013, Oliver hosted John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show, a stand-up series on Comedy Central that featured sets from himself and other stand-up comedians.[46] Four seasons of the show were produced through 2013, the first three lasting six episodes and the final lasting eight.

Last Week TonightEdit

Oliver began hosting Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a late-night talk show that takes a satirical look at news, politics, and current events, on 27 April 2014.[47] His initial two-year contract with HBO was extended through 2017 in February 2015.[48][49] Oliver says he has full creative freedom, including free rein to criticise corporations, given HBO's ad-free subscription model.[32] His work on the show led to Oliver being named on the list of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People" in 2015.[50]

Television actingEdit

Oliver had a recurring role on the NBC comedy Community as psychology professor Ian Duncan.[51] 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. He was not in season six which aired on Yahoo![52][53]

As a boy, Oliver played Felix Pardiggle, a minor role in the BBC drama Bleak House in 1985.[54]

Oliver has also worked on Gravity Falls as the voice of Sherlock Holmes (season 1, episode 3), Rick and Morty as an amoeba named Dr. Xenon Bloom (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), Green Wing as a car salesman (season 1, episode 1), and Bob's Burgers as a cat agent (season 7, episode 10).

Oliver guest starred as Booth Wilkes-John[55] in the 25th season episode "Pay Pal", of the FOX animated television series The Simpsons.

FilmEdit

In 2008, Oliver was given his first film role, playing Dick Pants in The Love Guru.[56] He later voiced Vanity Smurf in The Smurfs film and its sequel.[57][58] He was originally cast in 2010 to star in the Terry Jones film Absolutely Anything as Neil Clarke,[59] but scheduling conflicts due to the debut of Last Week Tonight in 2014 lead to the role being recast for Simon Pegg.[60] Oliver was announced as the voice of Zazu in the upcoming remake of Disney's The Lion King.[61]

Other workEdit

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.[62]

Oliver frequently appeared on the BBC Radio 5 Live sports show Fighting Talk.

From 2002 to 2003, Oliver worked on the BBC 3 comedy series The State We're In, along with Anita Rani, Jon Holmes, and Robin Ince.[63]

In 2003, Oliver manned the "results desk" on an election night episode of Armando Iannucci's satirical show Gash on Channel 4. He would work with Iannucci again in 2005, as a panellist in the second episode of Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive.

In 2004, Oliver wrote and performed in the satirical radio program The Department on BBC Radio 4, with frequent comedy partner Andy Zaltzman and Chris Addison. He portrayed the character Victor Gooch for all three series, prior to the cancellation of the program in 2006.

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 on the story of the making of the film Easy Rider.[64]

In 2018, Oliver began working as an executive producer for Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas.[65]

Influence and the "John Oliver effect"Edit

 
Oliver speaking at the 2014 Crunchies

Oliver has credited Jon Stewart as one of his major influences[66] and in a 2014 interview listed five others: Armando Iannucci, David Letterman, Monty Python, Peter Cook, and Richard Pryor.[67]

Oliver's comedic commentary has been credited with helping influence US legislation, regulations, court rulings, and other aspects of US culture; this influence has been dubbed "The John Oliver effect".[4][5] This came from the show's fifth episode, which dealt with net neutrality, a subject that had previously been considered obscure and technical.[68] Oliver documented problems attributed to internet service providers and argued that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could resolve these concerns with upcoming changes to internet regulation. Oliver then encouraged viewers to submit public comments through the FCC's website. The FCC's website promptly crashed.[69] Internal FCC emails revealed the clip was being watched inside the agency.[70] FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler publicly addressed the video.[71] The FCC was flooded with 3.7 million comments on the subject, by far the most for any issue in the agency's history.[72] Reporters detected a shift in the FCC's stance: Before Oliver's segment, The New York Times described an FCC proposal that would leave net neutrality "all but dead,"[73] but the paper later said that chairman Wheeler showed "a steady shift toward stronger regulation."[74] Ultimately, the FCC enacted robust net neutrality rules that classified broadband internet service as a public utility.[75] Oliver was credited with transforming the net neutrality debate.[68] The official YouTube video of his net neutrality segment has been viewed over 14 million times as of April 2018.[76]

A Ninth Circuit Court judge cited a Last Week Tonight segment about the lesser constitutional rights of residents of US territories in a ruling in favour of the residents of Guam.[77][78][a] Members of Congress credited Oliver with helping win a vote to enforce protections for chicken farmers who speak out about industry practices after a Last Week Tonight segment aired on the subject.[79][80][b] A Washington, D.C. council member proposed a resolution in Oliver's honor after he aired a segment on the district's struggle to attain statehood.[81][c]

Oliver maintains that he is not a journalist,[82] but reporters have argued that his show does engage in journalism.[83][84][85] The Peabody Awards honoured Oliver, saying his program engages in "investigative reports that 'real' news programs would do well to emulate".[86] One example of Oliver's investigative work is a segment on The Miss America Organization, which bills itself as "the world's largest provider of scholarships for women."[87] Oliver's team, which includes four researchers with journalism backgrounds,[88] collected and analysed the organisation's state and federal tax forms to find that the organization's scholarship program only distributes a small fraction of its claimed "$45 million made available annually".[89] Oliver said that at the national level, the Miss America Organization and Miss America Foundation together spent only $482,000 in cash scholarships in 2012.[87] Oliver found that at the state level, The Miss Alabama Pageant claimed that it had provided $2,592,000 in scholarships to Troy University despite not actually distributing any such scholarships.[90] The pageant appeared to multiply the value of a single available scholarship by the number of contestants theoretically eligible for it, while using the term "provided" in a way that did not mean "distributed". The official YouTube video of Oliver's Miss America segment has been viewed more than 15 million times.[91] The Society of Women Engineers said Oliver's mention of their scholarship in his story led to $25,000 in donations in the first two days after the episode.[92]

Oliver has also founded and legally incorporated a church, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, to demonstrate how easy it is to qualify as a church and receive tax exempt status in the United States.[93][94] The church was created in conjunction with a segment on televangelists who have tax-free mansions and private jets funded by millions of dollars in donations, which are sent in the belief that money given to televangelists can result in God rewarding donors with money, blessings, and cured diseases.[95][d] The next week, Oliver showed off the large quantity of unsolicited donations mailed to him.[96][97] The church's website stated that donations would go to Doctors Without Borders upon the church's dissolution.[98]

Oliver's February 2016 segment on presidential candidate Donald Trump received over 85 million views on Facebook and YouTube within a month, and was reportedly the "most watched piece of HBO content ever".[99] A network spokesperson said on the piece, "this is a record for any piece of HBO content".[100]

Personal lifeEdit

Oliver lives in New York City with his wife Kate Norley, an Iraq War veteran who served as a United States Army medic.[101] 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.[102][103] The two married in October 2011.[3] Together, the couple has two sons, one born prematurely[104] in 2015[105][106] and one born in 2018.[2]

Oliver's immigration status 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 obtaining 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;[107] he appeared on the show upon its resuming production on 7 January 2008. During a sketch, he pointed out that he was then in America on a visitors' visa that requires him not to strike while the show is in production, as violation of the terms of the visa would be grounds for deportation.[108] 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."[109]

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".[110] Oliver says he was given a scare when applying at the United States embassy in London, when an immigration officer asked, "Give me one good reason I should let you back in to insult my country," which the officer followed up with, "Oh, I'm just kidding, I love the show." Since then, he referred to Americans as "us" or "you" as each segment demanded.[111]

Oliver's philanthropy includes an on-air giveaway in which he forgave over $15,000,000 of medical debt owed by over 9,000 people. He purchased the debt for $60,000 and forgave it on his June 4 show in 2016.[112]

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2008 The Love Guru Dick Pants
2011 Moves: The Rise and Rise of the New Pornographers Protest Leader Short film
The Smurfs Vanity Smurf (voice)
2013 The Smurfs 2
The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow Short film
2019 Wonder Park Steve (voice) Post-production
The Lion King Zazu (voice) Filming

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1985 Bleak House Felix Pardiggle Episode: "1.2"
2001 People Like Us Bank Manager Episode: "The Bank Manager"
My Hero Man from BBC Episode: "Pregnant"
2003 Gash Himself Episode: "1.4"
2004 Green Wing Car Salesman Episode: "Caroline's First Day"
2005 The Comic Side of 7 Days Himself 6 episodes
2005–06 Mock the Week Panelist 7 episodes
2006–13 The Daily Show Himself (correspondent) 388 episodes; also writer (served as host for 31 days)
2008 John Oliver: Terrifying Times Himself Stand-up special
2009 Important Things with Demetri Martin Various Roles 2 episodes
2009–14 Community Ian Duncan 19 episodes
2010 Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear Peter Pan TV special; also writer
2010–13 John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show Himself (host) 26 episodes; also creator, writer, executive producer
2012 Gravity Falls Wax Sherlock Holmes (voice) Episode: "Headhunters"
2012–13 Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja Coach Green (voice) 4 episodes
2013 Rick and Morty Dr. Xenon Bloom (voice) Episode: "Anatomy Park"
2014–present Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Himself (host) Also creator, writer, executive producer
2014 The Simpsons Booth Wilkes-John[55] (voice) Episode: "Pay Pal"
Robot Chicken Serpentor (voice) Episode: "G.I. Jogurt"
2016–present Danger Mouse Dr. Augustus P. Crumhorn IV (voice) 4 episodes
2017 Bob's Burgers Ian (voice) Episode: "There's No Business Like Mr. Business Business"
The Detour Fitz Episode: "The Ass"

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Nominated work Result Ref.
2008 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Series The Daily Show Nominated [113]
2009 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series Nominated [114]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Series Won [113]
2010 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series Won [115]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Series Nominated [113]
2011 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series Nominated [116]
Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Writing Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear Nominated [117]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Series The Daily Show Won [113]
2012 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series Nominated [118]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series Won [113]
2013 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series Nominated [119]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series Nominated [113]
2014 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series Nominated [120]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series Nominated [113]
2015 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series Nominated [121]
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Won [122]
Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television Nominated [123]
Dorian Award for TV Current Affairs Show of the Year Nominated [124]
Dorian Award for Wilde Wit of the Year Won [125]
Peabody Award Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Won [126]
GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Talk Show Episode Won [127]
Webby Award for Best Writing in Social Won [128]
Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Talk Show Nominated [129]
TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in News and Information Won [130]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Talk Series Nominated [113]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Interactive Program Won
Environmental Media Award for Best Reality Television Nominated [131]
2016 Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Talk Show Won [132]
Dorian Award for TV Current Affairs Show of the Year Won [133]
Dorian Award for Wilde Wit of the Year Nominated [134]
Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Won [135]
GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Talk Show Episode Nominated [136]
Webby Award for Best Writing in Social Won [137]
TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in News and Information Nominated [138]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Talk Series Won [113]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series Won
Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Talk Show Nominated [139]
2017 Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television Won [140]
Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety – Talk Series Won [141]
Dorian Award for TV Current Affairs Show of the Year Nominated [142]
Dorian Award for Wilde Wit of the Year Nominated
MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Host Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Nominated [143]
Webby Award for Best Writing in Film & Video Nominated [144]
TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in News and Information Nominated [145]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Talk Series Won [113]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series Won
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Interactive Program Won
2018 Dorian Award for TV Current Affairs Show of the Year Nominated [146]
Dorian Award for Wilde Wit of the Year Nominated
Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Won [147]
Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety – Talk Series Won [148]
GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Talk Show Episode Won [149]
Peabody Award Won [150]
TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sketch/Variety Shows Won [151]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Talk Series Won [113]
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series Won
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Interactive Program Won

Published worksEdit

  • Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race (Grand Central Publishing, 2010) ISBN 978-0-446-57922-3
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo[152]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ See: "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories (HBO)". YouTube.com. 8 March 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  2. ^ See: "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Chickens (HBO)". YouTube.com. 17 May 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  3. ^ See: "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Washington DC Statehood (HBO)". YouTube. 2 August 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  4. ^ See: "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Televangelists (HBO)". YouTube. 16 August 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.

ReferencesEdit

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