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John Oliver takes questions recently from the members of the Television Critics Association. Courtesy HBO
John Oliver loves America — and making fun of it
Television » He’s gearing up for his own show on HBO.
First Published Jan 25 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Jan 27 2014 10:35 am

Pasadena, Calif. • John Oliver isn’t quite sure what his new HBO show is going to look like, but he’s pretty sure it will resemble what he did as guest host of "The Daily Show" this past summer.

"It will be similar because it is me talking about things," he said.

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The as-yet-untitled show, which doesn’t have a premiere date, won’t be "The Daily Show" with Oliver hosting, as was the case this past summer while Jon Stewart took a hiatus to direct a movie.

"I set myself the achievable goal of just not destroying that particular franchise," Oliver said. "So the fact that it’s still there and Jon is still doing it, that I took that as a W in the win column. It was a bizarre, exciting and terrifying experience."

He referred more than once to "The Daily Show" as "Jon [Stewart]’s machine."

"So I was just driving that and trying not to crash it into a wall. That was his intricately built machine over a decade-and-a-half. So I need to now build something similar."

Similar but not the same. For one thing, Oliver’s show will air just once a week.

"We’ll have extra time to have a different perspective on things," he said. "That’s the attractive thing about being on at the end of the week is you can look backwards and forwards at the week coming."

For another, he brings a different sensibility to his comedy — he’s a British expatriate who has made the United States his home for the past 7 ½ years. Which worked very well on "The Daily Show."

"I guess it went well," he said. "Comedy is subjective. I’m sure some people thought, ‘Get that British impostor off my favorite TV show!’ "

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Only a few, let’s hope.

"This is my home now," Oliver said. "I arrived here as an impostor on a visa, and now I am a legal permanent resident. It’s so romantic, that.

"I’m a green-card recipient, which means I can’t vote and I am taxed. So that IS taxation without representation."

He’s a Brit who makes fun of America and Americans. A lot. But it doesn’t come across as mean-spirited. He goes out of his way to make sure it doesn’t.

"I usually start stand-up gigs by saying some version of, ‘I love it here, and I need you to remember that during the things I’m going to be saying over the next hour-and-a-half.’ And that normally helps," Oliver said. "America has been very generous in what it has offered up as joke subjects over the years. And American politics in particular is a circus of crazy that is unparalleled around the world.

"And you can take that as both a compliment and an insult. I mean it as both."


Twitter: @ScottDPierce

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