John Oliver has brought oracular authority to a three-month fill-in stint on Comedy Central this summer. With Jon Stewart off directing a film, the anchor chair at The Daily Show has been occupied by the show’s senior British correspondent, John Oliver, whose own stand-up show on Comedy Central is just beginning its fourth season.
Oliver tells NPR’s Robert Siegel that being an anchorman is “a pretty weird experience, sitting behind that desk. I knew that I was going to have some almost comically oversized shoes to step into … I definitely feel like a child wearing a full adult clown pair of shoes.”
On this summer’s overload of big news stories like Edward Snowden, the George Zimmerman trial, and several Supreme Court decisions
“I was definitely prepared for it to be slower, and it has not worked out that way in any shape or form. I’m grateful as a comedian, and slightly demoralized, occasionally, as a human being — those two things are always very different.”
On his British accent
“You’re sonically racist, Americans. You think we all sound the same, whereas I have definitely a mongrel accent. My family are from Liverpool, so I have some twang there — I have a Midlands accent, and I was raised about an hour north of London, so my voice is a mess. Although, to American ears, it sounds like the crisp language of a queen’s butler.”
On how stand-up audiences react to his stint as an anchorman
“I don’t think I’m identified as the anchorman, I think I’m identified as the impostor anchorman — there’s a very clear line there … I don’t think it changes the way they respond. I mean, people, I guess, generally come to see me do stand-up with a working knowledge of my broad sense of humor on The Daily Show … I don’t think anyone would mistake me as an actual anchor. I think I’m just a summer fling that people will soon forget.”
On living in America
“I love it here, I deeply love it here. And, you know, I guess the tone of jokes is often, at best, irreverent, but it always comes from a place of deep love. I do not want to leave here … I cannot make that clear enough to immigration authorities who may be listening to this interview. I don’t want to leave, so please don’t make me.
“I have a green card now, but they can take that away, yeah, they can take that away at any moment. So please don’t; please let me keep it.”