Subbing for Jon Stewart as the host of “The Daily Show,” John Oliver was a smash. But was that a fluke…the result of good “Daily Show” writers? Judging from the non-stop laughter at his Friday, November 8 standup performance, John Oliver is one wittily funny man all on his own. Playing to a very diverse audience at D.C.’s Warner Theatre, Oliver provided gentle digs at everyone, including himself. He immediately had the audience on his side with just his self-introduction. From there the rest of the evening was a piece of cake.
Born in England, but living in the U.S. for the past seven years, Oliver has a unique perspective from which to do standup. He’s one of us, but he’s not one of us. He pokes with affection at the blunders of his birth nation—“how could they send their most hardened criminals to Australia, paradise on Earth? What was the thinking?” But then he goes off on a riff of U.S. political foibles—Congress has a 10% approval rating…however, polls don’t record sarcasm…badaboom. No one is spared…not White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Rick Perry or others too numerous to mention. Many American “traditions”—t-shirt cannons, home-run derbies…the list goes on and on—come in for their share of jabs. But to our credit, Oliver says that while America may be a bad boyfriend, the rest of the world is a bad girlfriend. And one can only hope he tells the story of his chance Jesse Jackson meeting, it’s that hilarious.
Many comedians come to the District and flatter us by saying that DC audiences are the smartest. While I like to think that is true, I live here and know that might not be exactly correct. It’s possible that we’re more up to speed on politics, but otherwise we’re pretty much like everyone. Case in point—in starting a story, Oliver threw out the question to a woman in the front row—“What first comes to mind when you think of Egypt?” Her response? “Sand.” That was definitely not the answer he was expecting. It sent him into peals of laughter. When he recovered, he went off on that response for a good 10 minutes. And with the dexterity of a skilled comedian, came back to that response over and over again.
While Oliver’s routine is splattered with f**k’s throughout, his commentary is clean, good-natured comedy. An evening with John Oliver is like sitting next to your high-school class clown for about 90 minutes of just all-out fun. If you love Oliver on “The Daily Show,” you’ll love and appreciate him even more after seeing his show.
Future performance dates can be found at iamjohnoliver.com.
4 nuggets out of 4