John Oliver should fit in just fine at HBO.
The former Daily Show correspondent and fill-in anchor starts his own political series at the pay network April 27, and it appears his left of center bona fides are firmly in place.
Oliver spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about his comedy, his background and his new series Last Week Tonight.
Growing up in Bedford, England — one of the formerly proud industrial towns north of London — the eldest of four children of schoolteachers, Oliver attended what he describes as a “rough” high school.
“I grew up watching my parents deal with the consequences of what the Thatcher government did to public education in England,” says Oliver. “I think it’s hard to be apathetic when you’re raised under Margaret Thatcher; you’re going to get pushed one way or the other.
Oliver also expressed the standard left-of-center response to the Trayvon Martin case. Reasonable people understand a variety of scenarios could have led to the death of the Florida teen, but Oliver voiced the certain, progressive version of those uncertain events.
But his approach is to look past the inviting tabloid fodder that constantly presents itself (hello, Anthony Weiner) and search out the sad, perplexing or troubling story and turn it into comedy that illuminates. The Trayvon Martin verdict, which came down a month into Oliver’s tenure at the helm of The Daily Show last summer, is an example. “That was not easy,” he admits. “You start with these feelings of disgust and rage, and as the day goes on, you kind of get excited about, ‘Oh, I think we’re managing to say the complicated things we’re wanting to say.’ “