TVLine's Performer of the Week: John Oliver

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


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?