John Oliver’s ascendance has been startling. He only moved to New York 8 years ago, and between becoming best friends with Ricky Gervais, starring as Prof. Ian Duncan on NBC's ‘Community’ and ‘corresponding’ on Comedy Central's ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’, he’s managed to navigate through a sea of late night talk show hosts to carve out his own: ‘Last Week Tonight’, which premieres this Sunday on HBO.
John Oliver holds up a picture of himself - his face tells the story
He was "a little-known British standup," according to HBO programming president, Michael Lombardo in light of his 8-week sting anchoring in Stewart’s chair while he was off living the director dream, but he quickly impressed him. "I was dazzled by this guy who came in and pulled it off."
Before his stint last summer, which threw him from ‘that really funny guy on another show’ to ‘ that really funny guy, have you watched his show?” he says: "I had little to no experience interviewing people for real. I was used to extremely combative interviews, but I wasn't used to talking to human beings like they were a human beings. That was the thing I was worried about the most; to curb my natural inclination toward attack and instead to try to be a nicer person. I actually enjoyed it."
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It’s been a turbulent time for chat show hosts. David Letterman’s retirement wasn’t a PR stunt or a ploy by the late night stalwart’s agent to get him a bigger contract, as Louis C.K falsely prophesized in the soon to return ‘Louie’; he’s going. Stephen Colbert is stepping in. But Oliver was never meant for that job. He already looks at home at HBO, and is ready to crossover with the channel’s current best selling flavour, Game of Thrones.
"That's my dream: If I'm on Game of Thrones, I'm going to be full-frontal nudity with a dragon head. I'm definitely pushing, but I don't think anyone wants that: HBO, Game of Thrones or humanity." (Via USA Today)
HBO's comedy talk show Last Week Tonight premieres Sunday (11 p.m. ET/PT).