TVLine's Performer of the Week: John Oliver

The Daily Show With Jon StewartA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | John Oliver

THE SHOW | The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

THE AIRDATE | July 31, 2013

The story of New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, whose sleazy exploits ran him out of Washington and may cost him yet another election, is a tawdry piece of comedy all on its own. But interim Daily Show host John Oliver’s outrage has turned each twist of the tabloid-ready tale into something transcendent.

Take, for instance, Oliver’s finger-wagging response on Wednesday when Weiner indirectly compared his situation to New York City in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. “You are not doing this. You are not 9/11-ing your d—k pics,” the comedian said, slapping his palm on the anchor desk as the audience hollered. “There is a line, and you just went over that line.”

The jokes were funny, as they have been consistently since the Brit assumed the host’s chair earlier this summer. But the real anger and disillusionment that girded them was what gave Oliver’s delivery an electric charge. How could the disgraced politician get anything done as mayor, Oliver mused? “He has no standing to punish anyone for anything anymore!” As the great Homer J. Simpson once said, it’s funny because it’s true.

Jon, we certainly miss you. But in the meantime, we’re having a great time with your earnest, erudite substitute. And if The Daily Show ever considers expanding itself, we’d wholeheartedly support a regular Friday British invasion if it means Oliver as host.

HONORABLE MENTION | Motive‘s John Pyper-Ferguson

The hook of ABC’s summer crime procedural Motive is that we learn the identity of the killer at the top of the episode — and discover the hows and whys as Kristin Lehman and Louis Ferreira’s detectives solve the case. In Thursday’s installment, “Undertow,” John Pyper-Ferguson (Brothers & Sisters, Burn Notice) played a building contractor so ruined with grief over the death of his son that it drove him to forge a murderous pact: He’d kill someone his boss wanted dead in exchange for his boss murdering the man responsible for the boy’s accidental death. In the course of an hour, we saw Pyper-Ferguson’s transformation from happy, well-adjusted suburban dad to cold-blooded killer. As the actor’s alter-ego bludgeoned and asphyxiated a total stranger in a darkened alleyway, his final vestiges of humanity disappeared, his shark eyes and blank expression an impressive — albeit horrible — climax to a fine hour of television.

What performance knocked your socks off this week?

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40 Comments
  1. Angela says:

    Oh, yeah, that “9/11″ comment was perfect. And so true-if Anthony Weiner DOESN’T get slapped in the face by a New Yorker for that at any point, I’ll be genuinely surprised.
    One of my favorite moments of the whole thing with Weiner was from a couple weeks ago, when John was discussing the texts Weiner sent out. One of said texts had Anthony saying something dirty having to do with the breasts of the girl he was flirting with. John said something like, “How is that even remotely sexy?” and then proceeded to mock the way Weiner described this woman’s breasts. Just cracked me the hell up.
    Yeah, if John wants to host a show of his own at any point in the near future, I’m all for it. The guy’s been fantastic and incredibly funny-great idea to spotlight him this go-round.

    • Deena says:

      Totally agree. John has been fantastic and I’m so glad my favorite correspondent is completely shining during this opportunity.

      The jokes about the text messages (and Anthony Weiner overall) were hilarious. “Do you even know how breasts WORK?” I was dying with laughter.

      • Angela says:

        YES! That’s the line I was thinking of :D!
        (Seriously, what is it with politicians in these sex scandals? They either send out the weirdest, most non-sexy tweets ever, or, in the case of Mark Sanford, sound like they’re writing the cheesiest romance novel ever with their love notes to their mistresses. That power and money must REALLY be quite the draw for these women, ’cause I can’t imagine any other reason why a girl would throw herself at so many of these sorts of guys.)

  2. Emma says:

    I really think Peter Sarsgaard deserved to be the performer of this week, he’s been great as Ray Seward the whole season but specially last episode.

    • Warren Parker says:

      I totally agree that Sarsgaard totally killed it with his fantastic performance and deserves special mention, but Oliver has exceeded expectations and richly deserves this accolade.

    • Spoiler Junkie says:

      Hands down, Peter Sarsgaard on S3E10 of The Killing. His portrayal of Ray Seward deserves an Emmy nomination at the very least. Mind blowing and amazing performance. I am surprised that he didn’t even get a honorable mention.

    • Sparky says:

      I was expecting that he might get a mention – he is a phenomenal actor and Sundays episode was brilliantly acted. Would be great to see him get some sort of acknowledgment for his performance.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      That ending was devastating. Even for a show called “The Killing” that ending seemed extra dark.

    • Bubba says:

      Wasn’t he named performer last week though?

  3. Becky says:

    John Oliver is doing really well. I will miss him come fall.

  4. artur says:

    Peter Sarsgaaard hands down! Give him already the Emmy. I got chills, seriously. The Killing is on fire this season.

  5. Padraig Tipton says:

    I know you just selected Joel Kinnaman from “The Killing” last week, but in my opinion, this week should have gone to Peter Sarsgaard. His performance of Ray Seward in Sunday’s episode was simply incredible, and he had the perfect acting partner with Mirielle Enos.

  6. Nat says:

    John Oliver has been a really excellent cover. Not saying I want Stewart gone any time soon, but it’s nice to know someone like Oliver is available to take over when Stewart does get tired of the job.

  7. Philip Fulgencio says:

    i know you already gave him “performer of the week” a few weeks ago and not sure if you allow repeats, but i agree with that Peter Sarsgaard should have gotten it. just the wordless scene of him being prepped and walked to his execution to finally seeing his son through the window is Emmy gold!

  8. Nancy says:

    Peter Sarsgaard hands down!

  9. D says:

    Saarsgard!

  10. joanie says:

    When I heard that Jon was taking the summer off to direct his film, thought I’d be taking the late nights off, too…until John Oliver came on the scene…HE IS HYSTERICAL! Of course, I’m a sucker for a British accent, I’ll admit, but his timing, delivery…I adore him.

    And if Jon wants to have another “Colbert” spin-off in the near future, I’m all for it. Mr. Oliver is fabulous! Cheers!

    • Angela says:

      I’m a sucker for a British accent, too *Nods* :). I’ve had a crush on John Oliver for quite some time now, these past couple months have only solidified that.

  11. Let’s hope The Daily Show’s Emmy streak will end come September 22nd (fingers crossed).

  12. mak says:

    The entire cast of The Killing this past week, but especially Peter Sarsgaard. It was the single best hour of television I’ve seen in a long, long while.

  13. Paul says:

    This was indeed Oliver’s best week as interim host so far, but I was never worried that he’d do a fine job. If you’ve not been listening to The Bugle podcast, you might not have realized that Oliver is extremely quick on his feet and never not funny.

  14. Rebecca Parker says:

    I adore John Oliver (and almost don’t want Jon Stewart to come back), but I would have chosen Peter Sarsgaard from the Killing this week, hands down. But if you didn’t want to repeat, I would have chosen Carrie Preston, who killed it on last week’s True Blood.

    • Sara says:

      I’ve not seen her on True Blood, but what is this magnetic pull Carrie has on us? She’s very good & beloved, even in very minor roles like in Person of Interest

      • Cathy says:

        Carrie Preston is amazing in the Good Wife; I would have to say that whatever they are paying her for that role is not enough.

  15. Alan says:

    does jon stewart even need to come back? john oliver has been fantastic these past few weeks and has really been putting forward a case for having his own show full time. i dont think ive seen one thing that hasnt been a perfectly judged piece of political commentary and absolutely hilarious.

  16. bobbie says:

    I’ve been loving John Oliver on The Daily Show. He’s wonderful. And yet, I really miss Jon Stewart. I would love it if John Oliver could get his own show.

  17. kate says:

    I saw John Oliver do standup last November, and I knew he’d do a great job. His first couple weeks were a little rocky, but he seems to have found his groove. Love him. Great job.

  18. HAP says:

    I think that as far as Oliver is concerned, the genie is out of the bottle. I cannot imagine they won’t do something soon to prevent Oliver from going back to the occasional appearance status on the Daily Show. He has proven he can carry a show.

  19. Olive says:

    Wow, Sarsgaard or Enos didn’t even get an honorable mention. That’s absolutely ridiculous.

  20. Jenna says:

    Oliver has been on fire! His coverage of On Her Majesty’s Secret Cervix was hilarious. Even his coverage of Detroit’s bankruptcy. His interviews are top notch. And now of course Weiner. Someone give him his own show, please, like Colbert.

  21. Becca says:

    Hasn’t Peter Saarsgard already been performer of the week?

  22. SonOfCoul says:

    I love the idea of TDS adding a friday episode just for John Oliver to host. He’s definitely earned it. Hell, if not…just give him his own show. Not like Comedy Central would be hurt losing it’s midnight time slot. It’s nothing but re-runs there, anyway.

  23. Peter Saarsgard was so good that I had to remind myself I wasn’t about to be executed. And Enos was phenomenal as well. Tasha

  24. Wendy says:

    John Oliver for Mayor of New York!!!

  25. Cathy says:

    Watching John Pyper-Ferguson break down when he found out his kid had died was shocking. I have seen him in a few things and haven’t been that impressed, but that one moment changed everything. Kudos to him for owning that role, especially that moment, and really making it worthwhile to see.

  26. Lisa J. says:

    Bryan Craig from General Hospital was unbelievable this week. Not only were his scenes with Maurice Benard riveting, it really showed his range and that he has an unbelievable career ahead if him, not just on daytime

  27. John says:

    This has proven that John needs his own show. He has been on fire since taking over and I do not want to go through withdraw when his term ends. I love Jon Stewart and anticipate his return as well but please spinoff John Oliver!

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