John Oliver is ready for the spotlight.
Or he will be when his solo late night show debuts on HBO later this spring. According to the British comedian, who spent nearly a decade as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, he isn’t yet clear what form his series will take. At this point, there is neither a name nor a premiere date for the show, and all he could offer with regard to a format was that “it will be me making fun of things.”
Instead, Oliver used his Television Critics Association platform to express his gratitude for his former boss and mentor, Jon Stewart. “As a comedian I’m almost allergic to sincerity, but he’s been amazing,” Oliver said, adding that he will continue to seek Stewart’s advice as he’s done for the past seven and a half years. (Oliver suggested he hadn’t done the same of fellow HBO comedian Bill Maher, but said he intends to do via email, and joked that the gesture likely would entail a fruit basket.)
Oliver was quick to acknowledge that it was his stint as Daily Show’s guest host this summer — an experience he describes as “bizarre, exciting and terrifying” — that landed him the HBO gig. Though he wasn’t fully comfortable classifying the two-month run as a success, he quipped that he was pleased that he didn’t kill the cable channel’s long-running franchise. “I guess it went well,” he shrugged, adding: “But comedy is subjective, and I’m sure some people thought, ‘Get that British imposter off of my favorite TV show.'”
What is clear at this stage is that he will strive to do a different show than Stewart has done for more than 10 years. “It will be similar because it will be me talking about things [but] that was Jon’s machine,” noted Oliver, reiterating that he has yet to determine what his own “machine” will look like. To be fair, Thursday marked only his third day of production on the late night show.
Helping Oliver to differentiate his entry will be the weekly schedule, and he believes having more time and perspective on the news will present both an opportunity and a pressure. (Whether the show will be a half hour or an hour has not been decided.) That his show will air on Sunday evenings, he adds, will also open up the potential subject matter and allow him to “look backwards and forwards.”