NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t


Photo by REED YOUNG via THE GUARDIAN

FRESH AIR


After serving as a correspondent on The Daily Show for 7 1/2 years ā€” and hosting it last summer while Jon Stewart took a break to direct his movie ā€” British comedian John Oliver now has his own show. Last Week Tonight, a political satire, airs on HBO on Sunday nights. Much like Stewart, Oliver takes complicated issues, explains them and makes fun of them. Recently, Oliver tackled Net Neutrality, or the idea that the Internet should be a level playing field with all data treated equally, whether it’s coming from a big corporation or a startup. The Federal Communications Commission is endorsing rules that would end net neutrality and create a data “fast lane” for companies willing to pay a premium. The issue is sometimes discussed in hard-to-follow technical and bureaucratic language, which is where Oliver comes in. “Internet neutrality is the most important thing that is honestly too boring to care about, and yet it is a pivotal moment in a very, very key issue,” Oliver tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “It took a week of sifting through almost paralyzingly dull footage to try and work out how to present it.” But present it he did in a 13-minute rant, and at the end of the show, Oliver encouraged viewers to comment on the FCC website to change the rule. The FCC site received so much traffic, the agency had to send out a few tweets saying it faced “technical difficulties” on its servers. As a comedian, Oliver says, his job is to remain an outsider. “There should be a kind of awkward tension whenever a journalist walks into a room that politicians are in, because you should’ve done things that annoyed them in the past,” he says. “It’s the same as a comedian. You’re no one’s friend.” He also talks about tasing his leg for comedic effect, working a temp job for a thief and how HBO gives him a “confusing amount of freedom.” MORE