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A Brit shares wit at Straz Center

British-born Daily Show With Jon Stewart writer/cast member John Oliver credits a simple inspiration for his Emmy-winning range: a severe attention-deficit issue.

"I get bored easily," confessed Oliver, 34, speaking from an airport terminal where the announcements were so loud, we agreed the airline must be trying to scare passengers onto the aircraft.

These days, he's a Daily Show writer and its most-featured correspondent, also appearing as professor Ian Duncan on NBC's Community and in his own Comedy Central series, John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show. (We won't mention that part in The Smurfs movie.)

Oliver submitted to a few questions while traveling:

How do you keep interview subjects from playing along?

Sometimes you have to explain you're interviewing them because you want their point of view, not because they're funny. You want somebody who will be as humorless as possible. Generally when we work with (new) camera crews, they're not walking away thinking, "That should be funny." They're saying, "What the hell just happened in there?" We're saying, "It'll be fine. Trust us."

How do you juggle all your various jobs?

I'm pretty exhausted, (but) The Daily Show is so all consuming, I find it clears my head doing something different. Otherwise, you're in the depressing soup of cable news all day.

Why do we Americans have such a love/hate relationship with the British?

You just can't help to want to be ordered around by us. It's like a disastrous old relationship you got out of. Part of you is still saying, "It would be fun, wouldn't it, to go out once more? I know we nearly killed each other last time …"

You hosted a comedy panel titled "The Decline of American Empire." Are you enjoying this?

It's all through the prism of someone who has been through this before. We lost everything. You can kind of offer advice: How to lose an empire with as much dignity as possible. And from experience I can tell you, not much dignity is possible.

John Oliver

The comedian appears at 8 p.m. Friday at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. Tickets are $34.50 in advance, $39.50 day of show. (813) 229-7827.

A Brit shares wit at Straz Center 10/20/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 20, 2011 4:30am]
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