John Oliver & “Last Week Tonight”

Last Week Tonight premieres tonight, so John Oliver has been doing the interview circuit. Bill Carter at the NYTimes:

Before he accepted the HBO job, Mr. Oliver, riding the wave of a three-month stint subbing for Mr. Stewart last summer, had fielded a surge of offers. CBS dangled a possible shot at the 12:35 a.m. slot following Mr. Letterman. Had he accepted, Mr. Oliver might have already been in position to slide up to the big chair. More logically, had the late-night earthquake hit a few months earlier, with Mr. Colbert signing with CBS, Mr. Oliver would have been the presumed heir on Comedy Central…

Among the highlights of his ensuing career at “The Daily Show”, probably the most memorable for him was covering the 2008 Republican Convention in St. Paul. As his usual obnoxious correspondent, he was at risk because he could not afford to get arrested for anything — deportation loomed. So when he wandered into a restricted area and was pursued by security, he sought refuge among some veterans invited by pro-military politicians. The one who helped Mr. Oliver hide out was a female vet, Kate Norley. He was grateful, took down her email and married her three years later…

Mr. Oliver will do 25 shows in a shortened season, then move to 35 (the same number Bill Maher does for HBO). “We’re certainly open to see where this goes,” Mr. Lombardo said. “You certainly could go more than one night a week.”…

Although I prefer Molly Young’s take at NYMag:

This makes The Daily Show an incubator on par with The Mickey Mouse Club, with funny men pouring out the other side instead of pop stars. Steve Carell and Ed Helms both served as correspondents, as did, of course, Stephen Colbert (the group’s Justin Timberlake, now off to the Ed Sullivan Theater). Oliver is well loved as a Stewart sidekick and substitute, but when Last Week Tonight debuts on Sunday, he will be assessed against the preposterously high standard set by his former show mates. The world is a scary place for hatchlings…

What really makes him happy is playing with his mostly golden mix dog Hoagie, named like the sandwich. Oliver’s wife, Kate, an Army medic and Iraq War veteran, is responsible for bringing Hoagie into his life. In the past, when he was a single stand-up, the concept of being responsible for any creature (including himself) was anxiety-­causing. When Hoagie came home for the first time, Oliver spent the night next to her on the floor, consoling the scared puppy. “I promise everything is going to be okay,” he told her. “I’m going to try as hard as I can to make everything all right.”

The dog may have helped prepare him for the task of managing his own staff. “Getting a dog is like dipping your toe in the waters of responsibility. I’m more aware of when people need to go to the bathroom now and when they need to be stroked.”…

Mr. Oliver also tells a story about a monkey.

58 replies
  1. 1
    Violet says:

    I hope he does well. I don’t have HBO so… I might think about adding it for a short while to test the waters. I assume his debut show will re-air?

  2. 2
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    @Violet: I was going to say more or less the same thing. He was great at the Daily Show host, particularly the night the power blew.

  3. 3
    WereBear says:

    @Violet: HBO has an On Demand feature that lets you catch up.

    After not having it for years, we got lured back with the Sopranos re-broadcast, got hooked on Boardwalk Empire & (Mr WereBear) Game of Thrones, and now they have John Oliver!

    But the rest of cable… meh. When HBO goes streaming, we’ll be there.

  4. 4
    Violet says:

    @WereBear: You don’t have to pay for the On Demand feature? HBO has HBO Go, but you have to pay for that. Apparently they expect people to share their passwords so if you know someone with it maybe you could ask nicely.

    @Iowa Old Lady: I really enjoyed him last summer at The Daily Show. And you’re right–the night the power blew he was great. Loved Carlos Danger too. Heh.

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    His career seems to be going along well enough now that he can afford to buy a last name.

  6. 6
    WereBear says:

    @Violet: In our circumstance (getting it via cable) we have On Demand included, and also HBO Go, which we haven’t tried yet.

    I would call them up and try to negotiate some special rate! I’ve had good luck with that.

  7. 7
    Mnemosyne says:

    John Oliver is also the inventor of the Fuckeulogy. So far, only three people have been “honored” with one: Osama bin Laden, Moammar Gaddafi, and Kim Jong-il.

    There apparently is now a slightly lesser honor, the “Celebrorial,” where you merely celebrate a horrible person’s death rather than issuing an outright “fuck you.”

  8. 8
    WaterGirl says:

    @Violet: You cannot access OnDemand or HBO GO unless you already get HBO as a TV channel. Or unless someone who does get HBO is willing to give you their login and password.

    In fact, you can’t even watch a missed episode of things like The Good Wife these days through On Demand or even on-line at ABC or CBS. Same thing – you have to tell them who your provider is and have a login and password with that provider.

    That’s how they are dealing with all the people who cancel cable and figure “i’ll just watch it on-line”.

  9. 9
    Schlemizel says:

    Anyone else concerned that he married a pro-war vet that parties with pro-was goppers high enough up that they get invited inside the velvet rope? Or, am I just being paranoid?

  10. 10
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Schlemizel: Anyone else concerned that she married a super-liberal comedian that parties with Hollywood Democrats high enough up that he gets a regular TV gig?

    Everybody gets free will here.

  11. 11
    WereBear says:

    @Schlemizel: Mind you, she hid him, didn’t she?

  12. 12
    aimai says:

    Good god, I just googled John Oliver and his wedding pictures. If anyone ever asks what is important to women the answer should be obvious–a great sense of humor. That woman is stunning. I salute her good taste in husbands.

  13. 13
    Lolis says:


    I looked her up. I didn’t realize he married a total right winger. I saw him live a few months ago and he is very charming.

  14. 14
    MikeJ says:

    @Schlemizel: I’m supposed to be concerned that a celebrity doesn’t share my political views? That would be pretty fucking far down on my list.

  15. 15
    mb says:

    I’m probably in the minority on this, but I find John Oliver”s schtick somewhat tiresome. He was fine as Daily Show correspondent, but I stopped watching when he subbed for Stewart — gave him a chance, but gave up after a few shows. Wish him the best, but won’t be watching –don’t have hbo, but wouldn’t if I had it.

  16. 16
    Joel says:

    @MikeJ: Oliver is definitely liberal. People love each other for many reasons; politics usually ranks lower on the list for most.

  17. 17
    geg6 says:


    FWIT, I could never pair off with someone whose politics was very far off from my own. If I did, it would be a disaster of very short duration, if not a murder/suicide. But that may just be me.

  18. 18
    Violet says:

    @Schlemizel: I’m confused. Where did you see that John Oliver’s wife is “pro war”?

  19. 19
    Keith G says:

    @Schlemizel: WTF? Do you not know his work? Jesus. That would be like worrying that Carlin might have joined the College Republicans.

  20. 20
    geg6 says:


    Not saying she isn’t, but I know plenty of anti-war, liberal vets. Especially those of the Iraq and Afghanistan variety.

  21. 21
    Baud says:


    She will break him.

  22. 22
    Violet says:

    @geg6: Yeah, she was at the Republican convention with some veterans group. I’m not sure that’s the same thing as being a well-connected Republican. Apparently she’s going to school to become a Physican’s Assistant. Doesn’t sound like she’s making politics a career but you never know.

  23. 23
    Keith G says:

    @Violet: I do not have cable, but I watch Maddow the next day via iTunes and Bill Maher a few days later also** on iTunes. Both are free. I am hoping that they will do the same for Oliver. It would make sense to build his audience.

    **And once a week I go to Comedy Central’s site and watch the last week’s episodes of Stewart, Colbert, and Chris Hardwick’s new show.

  24. 24
    Pogonip says:

    @geg6: For me it would depend on what the politics were; there are a couple of issues on which I’ve pretty firmly settled my opinion–although of course new facts can always come to light–but mostly I’m easygoing. I learned long ago that there are 2 kinds of people–those who agree with me, and those who are wrong. I just wait patiently for enlightenment to strike that latter crowd.

    One exception: I don’t think I could live with a Teabagger. I work with a lot of them, and they are all the laziest, whiniest, most worthless of employees. I spend enough time carrying their lazy asses at work, I refuse to do so off the clock. Also, they’re freeloaders–they want to drive on our roads, for example, but don’t want to contribute to the upkeep. Faugh upon them!

  25. 25
    Tommy says:

    I am really looking forward to this show. IMHO HBO is just amazing. Friday night with Vice and Bill Maher is wonderful. I expect this to be the same.

  26. 26
    NotMax says:

    (Repeating for a different time segment crowd.)

    For fans of deadpan dark, dark humor punctuating proletarian life’s repeated blows, two entries showing up on TCM (all times Eastern):

    Monday, April 28, 2 a.m.: The Match Factory Girl

    Monday, April 28, 3:15 a.m.: Ariel

    Both directed by Aki Kaurismäki. If only have time for one of them, go with Ariel. It’s the more memorable and life affecting of the two, IMHO. Finnish films, but the dialogue is spare and even secondary to the visuals and circumstances.

  27. 27
    scav says:

    Don’t everybody drive our bloghost into dispair over ever dating again because of his past associations. Schlemizel and a few others might be definitively out of the pool, but there are other metrics and an entire personality beyond the conferences attended by invitation. She seems to like dogs, that should get her a few BJ cookies, as though they mattered. Being TVless, I’m off to listen to old editions of the Bugle instead. Wonder how much I’ll remember, forget when I first stumbled into them. Definitely Times era.

  28. 28
    Tommy says:

    You know what I am stunned by, that racist owner of the Clippers Donald Sterling. Well not so stunned really. But I’ve been thinking about Chris Paul. For you non-sports people he is most likely a top ten player and maybe the best point guard in the game. A few years ago New Orleans wanted to trade him to the Lakers (where he wanted to go BTW), which would have been a game changer for them. The NBA blocked it. Let me say that again the league blocked the trade. Eventually he was traded to the Clippers cause they were one of the only teams if not about the only team with the cap space to sign him to a long term deal.

    Paul is an African American. If I was him I’d be on the phone with a lawyer wanting to sue the league, that they basically forced him to be traded to a team with a racist owner. That if he wants to keep getting his paycheck he has to play for the dude.

    Congress needs to do something with these “leagues.” The leagues don’t pay taxes. They can introduce labor laws that are not legal for the rest of the nation. And they can pick and choose who owns a team (ask Mark Cuban, MLB won’t let him buy a team even though by all accounts he was the highest bidder for the Cubs a few years ago).

    It just hurts my head …..

  29. 29
    Lolis says:


    Google pulls up links of her criticizing Obama in 2008 for not acknowledging how awesome the Iraq War is going and for not having met one-on-one with Petraeus. Links of her on Fox News as well. She is (or was) definitely a winger. It is a little strange he married someone who probably voted for McCain/Palin, but love is weird. He definitely has a sweetness to him so maybe they balance each other out.

  30. 30
    Keith G says:

    It is a little strange he married someone who probably voted for McCain/Palin

    I am pretty sure that this is not what life boils down to – at least I hope not.

  31. 31
    maya says:

    So, it’s been established that Oliver is a male war bride.
    I smell box office bonanza here …..Not since Matalin & Carver; Hepburn & Tracy, Grant & Sheridan……

  32. 32
    Tommy says:

    @Keith G: Yeah, the women I date are often Republican. Generally speaking for her and myself politics the same as mine are not at the top of the list of what I am looking for. It would be nice I guess, but not usually the case.

  33. 33
    Keith G says:

    FYI: A Koch Industries owned Georgia Pacific plant in east Texas (95 mi N of Houston) had an explosion last night that injured 7 folks. The plant produces plywood. There are no details on the cause.

  34. 34
    Tommy says:

    @Keith G: I guess the positive is nobody died. Look I get jobs in a chemical plant and such can be dangerous. Shit happens as they say. But it just seems every time something like this happens there is an investigation into, well what happened. Then we learn that nobody had inspected the plant for years. Even a decade.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:


    It’s hard to say, though — Google had an interesting article about her from 2004 when she was still in the Army. It sounds like she’s much more interested in veterans’ issues than specifically Republican ones. And her anti-Obama stuff seems to be from the 2008 election, when he was running against War Hero John McCain.

    ETA: She had the balls to join the Army when chickenhawks like Ben Shapiro were too busy to go, so I give her credit for that.

  36. 36
    WereBear says:

    People! She helped out a guy a in bad spot!

    So I would say she’s not a typical Republican.

  37. 37
    Tommy says:

    @Mnemosyne: I don’t think people should ever underestimate McCain being military. My town is kind of liberal. In IL. We voted for McCain 57%. Cause well there is a huge military base a few miles away and much of the town is either active service or retired military.

    You can fault military folks for voting for McCain, cause well he might have started more wars (and the military people I now DON’T LIKE WARS–they have to fight them). But it is my experience military people like to vote for military people. Maybe call it a “shared experience” they have. I don’t know, but I see it all the time.

  38. 38
    raven says:

    @Tommy: The NFL is the only pro league that is tax exempt.

    The NFL’s exemption has a long history. Section 501(c)(6) was amended following the AFL-NFL merger in 1966 to include “professional football leagues (whether or not administering a pension fund for football players),” language to make clear that the league was still qualified under the section, despite paying pension benefits to individuals. However, professional sports leagues were already qualified under that section prior to the additional language. Major League Baseball has since given up its exemption, in 2007, reportedly because of changes to the code that required disclosure of executive salaries. The NBA has never been tax exempt.

  39. 39
    Violet says:

    @Mnemosyne: From your article:

    Without getting through the superficial to the substance, it’s easy to focus on the cover-girl looks, the boarding-school pedigree and the affluent family.

    Her stepfather, Dennis Mannion, is senior vice president of business ventures for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League. And Norley hobnobbed at a Ravens game with Tom Ridge, Homeland Security secretary, before deploying. Her mother is from a family wealthy in its own right.

    Ravens! What’s Cole going to say?

  40. 40
    Tommy says:

    @Violet: Oh military service as a way to eventually enter politics. Seems to be all the fad these days. The tea party guy that ran for the open House seat in my district did the same thing. 30 years old. Inherited $50M from his father. Joined. Served. Did not reenlist. Then ran for office as a “War Vet.”

    I guess I can’t really fault them, they did serve (and I didn’t). But there is something about it that makes me a little sick to my stomach. I come from a family of military people. Live in a military town to a large extent. Those I know that served don’t run around broadcasting it.

  41. 41
    kindness says:

    I’m sorry Oliver isn’t taking over Colbert’s spot but it may be better for Oliver this way. He’ll have to grow on his own. We’ll see. Gotta set the DVR for it.

  42. 42
    gene108 says:


    Seems like an interesting person.

    Also, since Jon Stewart’s been running TDS a lot of folks have been able to use it as a way up the entertainment ladder from Colbert, Steve Carrell to Jon Oliver now.

    Whatever Stewart’s faults are, with regards to trying to be “fair and balanced”, he really has an impressive record of landing and promoting talent on his show.

  43. 43
    Violet says:

    @Tommy: I don’t have a problem with that. He served. He gets to say so when he runs for office.

    Thought experiment: If the guy were a liberal Democrat and were doing the same thing with his military experience would you have a problem with it? If not, then it might be that it’s more about him being a teabagger than anything else.

  44. 44
    Tommy says:

    @gene108: I think HBO is a wonderful platform for him. They let Bill Maher pretty much do whatever he wants it seems. See no reason they wouldn’t do the same for him. Plus if he wants to do stand-up, well HBO is the place. And now Bill is the executive producer of the Vice news program that airs after his show on Friday. Being a producer is where you can make a lot of money in the TV business.

  45. 45
    Poopyman says:

    @Tommy: A war vet prez? That started with Washington, IIRC, although I’d say it was Jackson that first actually campaigned on it.

    Been going on a while. Kennedy, Nixon(!), and “Nukalah” Jimmy Carter all reminded folks that they served.

  46. 46
    Tommy says:

    @gene108: I think I would. In fact the guy I mentioned ran against a two star Army general. He didn’t pound his chest. He kind of took the attitude that he had been there and done you snot nose kid.

  47. 47
    Poopyman says:

    @Violet: Well if a Dem ran on his record I’d bet you that the Republicans would make fun of it. Probably discount his Purple Hearts by making purple bandaids, or something.

  48. 48
    evodevo says:

    @Poopyman: Oh, SNAP !!!!

  49. 49
    raven says:

    @Violet: He’s called John Kerry.

  50. 50
    Annamal says:

    People, if you’re not listening to The Bugle (the podcast that John Oliver shares with Andy Zaltzman) then you are missing out on a great of humour (also godawful pun runs, wolf urine and Badonkadonk tanks).

  51. 51
    Violet says:

    @raven: I get that. My question was for Tommy. He said he doesn’t like the guy talking about his record. If the guy’s political views were more aligned with his, then how would the war vet issue affect his views. That’s all. I get that Republicans don’t want Democrats to run as war vets. Same old, same old.

  52. 52
    drkrick says:

    A few years ago New Orleans wanted to trade him to the Lakers (where he wanted to go BTW), which would have been a game changer for them. The NBA blocked it.

    Not quite. The NBA actually owned the team at the time and Stern, as essentially the team’s GM, decided the Lakers deal wasn’t good enough and pulled the plug, eventually making what he considered a better one with the Clippers. The Clippers, along with the Knicks and the Lakers, were all on Paul’s “willing to sign” list.

  53. 53
    Larkspur says:

    @kindness: Plus maybe we can see Jessica Williams in the Colbert slot.

  54. 54
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    From the second piece:

    Last Week Tonight will air only once a week, which requires a metabolic shift that Oliver hasn’t perfected.

    Er, The Bugle airs once a week, apart from the weeks when they’re off doing other things like launching HBO shows or playing gigs in Luxembourg. (Fuck you, Chris.)

  55. 55
  56. 56
    Annamal says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:


  57. 57
    Paul in KY says:

    @Mnemosyne: Waiting for Darth Cheney’s demise.

  58. 58
    maurinsky says:

    My politics are a reflection of my values – I could not be with someone who didn’t share them. I couldn’t vote for someone who voted for GWB, I certainly couldn’t marry someone who did.

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