John Oliver’s summer fill in work for Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” could have tripped up a lesser performer. Here was Oliver being asked to carry Comedy Central’s marque show for a few months while Stewart was away directing his first movie. Oliver proved himself more than worthy of being behind the desk by deftly handling the Anthony Weiner mayoral craziness, and creating a different tone and voice than the one employed by Stewart.
After Stewart’s return the discussion about Oliver had moved to when he would be getting his own show on Comedy Central like “The Colbert Report”. Comedy Central’s problem is not having natural room for an Oliver show on the schedule. A post Colbert midnight slot doesn’t have much cache in basic cable. Instead of staying put Oliver has made giant move in inking a deal with HBO for his own show. He will now become the Colbert to HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.
The decision, reported on by multiple outlets, is a big move by Oliver who had tons of capital after his summer hosting gig. Here’s what Deadline.com had to say about the move.
“We weren’t otherwise searching for another weekly talk show, but when we saw John Oliver handling host duties on The Daily Show, we knew that his singular perspective and distinct voice belonged on HBO,” said HBO’s Michael Lombardo. Added Oliver, “I’m incredibly excited to be joining HBO, especially as I presume this means I get free HBO now. I want to thank Comedy Central, and everyone at The Daily Show for the best seven and a half years of my life. But most of all, I’d like to thank Jon Stewart. He taught me everything I know. In fact, if I fail in the future, it’s entirely his fault.”
If I’m HBO I have to be excited to know have two comedy shows in my lineup that know how to crank out viral videos. Oliver also gets to play in the world of premium cable where swear words and topics that would never see the light of day on Comedy Central are fair game. As HBO moves closer and closer to offering their programming in the same way Netflix does they continue to increase the production of dynamic programming outside their drama sweet spot. It would be a surprise if Oliver’s new HBO show is anything but a success.