Press Tour: John Oliver pokes Sarah Palin, gushes over HBO

When John Oliver sat down for his HBO panel at press tour, he probably wasn’t expecting to spend so much time talking about Sarah Palin. But when one journalist asked him if he might want to stop by to say hello to the former Governor of Alaska, the stand-up comedian couldn’t resist. 

“What? You are kidding! Now I’m checking in! Good for her. So she has a new show on the sports channel? [Actually, the Sportsman Channel] She’s going to do to sports what she did to politics. She wouldn’t set foot in front of you liberal monsters. There’s a significant voice in my head saying check in, go to breakfast. Lots of moose-based favorites. Sarah Palin on a breakfast bar. My life could just be over in that moment.”

Eventually, the panel got back on track, with Oliver addressing the “bizarre, exciting and terrifying experience” that was filling in for John Stewart during his break from “The Daily Show.” Oliver said he still asks Stewart’s advice “on everything; I’ll probably ask his advice on checking into the hotel tonight. He’s been amazing. As a comedian I’m almost allergic to sincerity, but he’s amazing.”

He also talked about his teary farewell to “The Daily Show.” “I’m British, so I’m not in touch with anything regarding human emotion. It was the last show before our break, so it was going to be quite silly. It was about the Queen being upset people were stealing nuts from her bowl. That’s a major news story over there. We had a whole act one headline and John bailed out and instead said some nice things so I burst into tears. I’m British, we’re emotional volcanos. I’m probably next due to erupt in 45 years.”
When a journalist suggested Oliver name his still-unnamed show “May I Have Some More?”, Oliver joked, “That’s racist. It’s okay for me to do Dickens humor; it’s not okay for you to do it. There’s something so infuriating when you do that accent. If we can’t think of a better title than that, then that will be the title in a few month’s time.”
He was less clear about how the show will be different than “The Daily Show,” an understandable issue given that they’ve just begun work. “It will be similar because it will be me talking about things… I just have to build a machine that will approach it in a different way. I don’t think there’s a worry that it will be too similar. We’re not going up against anyone, so it will be an interesting process to work out what we do. We have more time, and that comes with opportunity and pressure. It’s about churning out shows and being reactive in the moment.”
When the subject returned again to Palin, Oliver encouraged a journalist to ask his own question. “Take your shot. Ask your question to a magnificent sports channel pioneer. I’m not here primarily to sell her show, she can do that herself.”
Oliver did have some kind words for HBO, saying. “It’s a world of limitless possibilities. I sound like a bad Willy Wonka.”
He also talked about his take on America. “My view has changed, because I view this as my home now… America has been very generous in what it has offered up over the years, especially politics. It’s been a circus of crazy unparalleled around the world.”