Why John Oliver is the Broadcast Journalist of Your Dreams

by Laura K. Garrison

John Oliver shines on his own show.

You probably first remember seeing John Oliver as the Harry Potter-lookalike correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Between his adorable British accent, adorable British mannerisms, and adorable dimply smile, Oliver was a favorite on the popular fake news show. When Jon Stewart briefly left The Daily Show in 2013 to direct Rosewater, his first film to be released on November 7, Oliver stepped in to helm the show for eight weeks. And while reviews of Oliver’s hosting of The Daily Show were mixed, he’s certainly hit his stride as the star of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

After watching its premiere in April, Last Week Tonight became a necessary staple of my weekly television-watching. Smart, funny, and appropriately profanity-laden, Oliver strikes a balance between borrowing from his experiences at The Daily Show and pushing fake news to its hysterical – and poignant – best. Like its Comedy Central predecessors The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, Last Week Tonight is a half hour-long show broken down into segments like a typical network news program. Oliver focuses heavily on international affairs, ridicules the abysmal state of broadcast journalism, and covers lesser known issues that aren’t receiving the media attention they deserve.

While I have nothing but love for Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, Last Week Tonight’s affiliation with HBO allows the show to be a little bolder and edgier. Curse words don’t have to be bleeped out, and Oliver is able to go on the offensive, not beholden to corporate sponsors or advertisements. The issues he has chosen to highlight range from rising college debt to America’s broken prison system to explaining the complex debate surrounding net neutrality. Special guests often pop up every couple of episodes, including journalist Fareed Zakaria, comedian Kathy Griffin, the band ‘Right Said Fred’, and my personal favorite, actor Steve Buscemi. While Last Week Tonight is only available on HBO and HBO GO, you can watch clips of the show on YouTube that are perfect for sharing on Facebook. I also suggest you follow Last Week Tonight on Twitter and Instagram for fun, quippy updates throughout the rest of the week.

I’ll always have a special place in my heart for John Oliver (fun fact: I ran into him the night after Hurricane Sandy hit as he walked his dog along Broadway on the Upper West Side). He’s a talented comedian with a knack for highlighting the important but uncovered stories unfolding here and abroad, and Last Week Tonight seems to be the perfect fit for his witty sarcasm. I plan to get tickets to the show in the near future, which you can do online every Sunday at 3pm. Tune in to Last Week Tonight on Sundays at 11pm on HBO or catch it starting the following Monday anytime on HBO GO.

Laura K. Garrison is a senior at Barnard and Senior Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of Nerdist.

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