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From Jon to John; Oliver takes over from Stewart at Daily Show desk

- June 7th, 2013

stewart

All The Daily Show is doing is adding a letter.

From Jon to John.

John Oliver (pictured above left) is taking over as the host of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, starting Monday, June 10 on The Comedy Network and CTV. Relax, not permanently.

Jon Stewart (pictured above right) is going to spend the summer directing a feature film. Oliver, a British comedian who has been part of the team on The Daily Show since 2006, is stepping in – or sitting down, as it were – for the big guy.

It’s funny, when I first heard about this, it made me think of an old episode of The Larry Sanders Show that involved Stewart, in a guest spot playing himself.

Larry (played by Garry Shandling) was a talk-show host, a la Johnny Carson or David Letterman. The setup was that the network was trying to work in Stewart – who at the time was a young up-and-comer who didn’t have The Daily Show yet – as a guest-host on Larry’s show.

But Larry kept nabbing all the good guests for the nights that he knew he was going to be working. Stewart was being left with people such as Sally Struthers, because, according to Larry, Stewart would be great “flirting” with her.

Larry commandeered certain guests under the guise of them being “personal friends.” When Stewart asked, “So, Hootie and the Blowfish are personal friends of yours?” Larry distractedly replied, “The Blowfish are. Hootie seems aloof.”

Tonally, there are a lot of similarities between The Larry Sanders Show, which aired from 1992 to 1998, and The Daily Show, which – as hard as it is to believe – goes all the way back to 1996 (Stewart took over from original host Craig Kilborn in 1999).

Oliver’s segments always have been among the funniest on The Daily Show. There is a barking certainty to his delivery that rarely fails to make me laugh.

Oliver also has played a semi-recurring character on the sitcom Community, and he has had a few standup specials as well.

Perhaps the funniest and smartest thing I’ve seen on TV in recent months was a Daily Show segment Oliver did about gun-control legislation. He went to Australia to interview people who had passed gun-control laws back in the 1990s, but were politically ruined because of it, even though the laws have worked remarkably well.

When they explained to Oliver that they had pushed for gun-control laws because they thought it was the right thing to do, and they knew if the laws passed it still might ruin their political careers, Oliver’s gap-jawed reactions were priceless. That would NEVER happen in the United States, he explained.

Being a correspondent on The Daily Show and hosting The Daily Show are two different things, of course.

Oliver has said – probably not entirely as a joke – that he knows the ratings are going to go down, first because it’s summer, and second because he’s hosting. His ambition is to not ruin the show completely. In his mind, that will qualify as success.

Privately, I’m sure he has higher goals than that. For fans, it’ll be fascinating to see another funny Jon – make that John at the Daily Show desk.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

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1 comment

  1. Will | June 12, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    What?!? Australia’s gun control law worked?? Now that’s a newsflash. I’ve heard entirely the opposite.

    And before anyone says, “Oh you probably heard that from some right wing loonie”, I hope you realise that Jon Stewart (probably John Oliver too but I’m sure time will tell) aren’t exactly well-known for having any lack of political bias either.

    Oh heck, someone go ahead and post statistics if you have them, but I still say Stewart is your typical biased Hollywood leftie.

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