Feature

The man who replaced Jon Stewart

Seven years ago, John Oliver was offered a job on the satirical news program The Daily Show.

John Oliver is living the American dream, said Oliver Burkeman in The Guardian (U.K.). Seven years ago, just as his comedy career was beginning, the British comedian was offered a job on the satirical news program The Daily Show. He’s worked there ever since, and this summer temporarily took over as host from Jon Stewart. Oliver loves his job, but admits that being a professional cynic has its challenges. When he reported live from Obama’s 2009 inauguration, he found it very strange “to be present at a moment of genuine history with the sole purpose of trying to undermine it. People are screaming in joy at the top of their lungs, and you’re there in the middle of them, with a camera a long way away, and you’re jumping up and down, chanting things like, ‘Are people happy? Yes! Are they setting themselves up for inevitable disappointment? Of course they are!’ You can feel the animosity around you. You can feel people asking, ‘Why are you doing this?’ And that’s a fair question.” But cynicism gets easier with practice. “You get better at it. You kill the thing inside that’s holding you back from doing your job properly. You flick a switch and turn off the human side of you. And then,” he laughs, “you just hope you can flick it back on again afterwards.”

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