John Oliver is a British comedian and writer best known as The Daily Show’s “senior British correspondent.”
Born on April 23, 1977, in Birmingham, Erdington, England, comedian and writer John Oliver attended Christ's College at the University of Cambridge, where he joined the famed Cambridge Footlights comedy troupe. He continued to write and perform stand-up throughout England after college, and after co-creating the political radio show Political Animal and becoming a regular guest on television's Mock the Week, Oliver received a call to audition for The Daily Show in 2006. He was hired as The Daily Show's "senior British correspondent." In 2008, John Oliver: Terrible Times debuted on Comedy Central. The Daily Show's longtime host, Jon Stewart, took a hiatus from the show in the summer of 2013, during which time Oliver appeared as interim host. The following year, Oliver debuted his own show called Last Week Tonight on HBO.
Early Life and Education
Comedian and writer John William Oliver was born on April 23, 1977, in the Birmingham suburb of Erdington, England, to two teachers. As a young boy, Oliver dreamed of one day becoming a professional football player.
Oliver attended Christ's College at the University of Cambridge to study English, though he found himself more occupied with stand-up comedy than with keeping up with his schoolwork. He found his niche when he met Richard Ayoade, a fellow Cambridge student. The two bonded and became writing partners, and both joined the famed Cambridge Footlights comedy troupe.
Career Breakthrough: 'The Daily Show'
After college, John Oliver continued to write and perform stand-up throughout England. In 2001, he performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as part of The Comedy Zone. After some time temping and taking on other small jobs, his stand-up began to gain some notice. In 2004, Oliver collaborated with fellow comedian Andy Zaltzman to create a political radio show, Political Animal. He began to receive jobs with BBC, and by 2005, had become a regular guest on the network's comedic television program Mock the Week.
In 2006, fellow British comedian Ricky Gervais, who was familiar with Oliver's work, told his good friend, Jon Stewart, of Oliver's talents. Oliver had never even been to the United States when he received a call to audition for The Daily Show. He was selected to be the show's "senior British correspondent." Oliver's character on the show showcased one British cliché after another, and became the authority as a critic of American culture.
In 2007, Oliver rekindled his collaboration with Zaltzman and began a weekly political satirical podcast entitled The Bugle. His rise in popularity prompted Comedy Central to offer Oliver his own stand up special. In 2008, John Oliver: Terrible Times debuted on the network.
Big-Screen Debut and Other Recent Work
Oliver stood out on the picket lines in 2008 with the Writers Guild of America—a strike that caused The Daily Show to go on hiatus. That same year, Oliver was cast in his first movie, The Love Guru, alongside Mike Myers. In addition to his big-screen debut, Oliver was cast as Professor Ian Duncan on the hit series Community. He was offered a full-time contract with the show, but declined so that he could remain on The Daily Show.
Oliver married Iraq War veteran Kate Norley in October 2011. The two had met three years earlier, at the 2008 Republican National Convention, where Norley was campaigning with "Vets for Freedom" and Oliver was doing a piece for The Daily Show.
In March 2013, Stewart announced that he would be taking a 12-week hiatus from The Daily Show to direct a film, Rosewater, with Oliver taking over as interim host of the show for the summer of 2013. Not long after his well-received run as the host of The Daily Show, Oliver landed his own news-inspired program. He explained in an interview with Today that he was both "excited and terrified" about this new venture. Oliver launched Last Week Tonight on HBO in April 2014.