John Oliver: Comedy Newsman, HBO Now Pitchman

Photo: HBO

As Jon Stewart returns to his Comedy Central late-night show this week — he kicked things off with a plea to viewers to give his successor Trevor Noah a chance — John Oliver, the guy many had expected to take over The Daily Show from Stewart, has risen very far very fast at HBO. This morning the Last Week Tonight star debuted as HBO’s pitchman for its launch of HBO Now, the on-demand streaming service that became available today on Apple TV and other iOS devices, Optimum broadband services, etc.

HBO Now“If you’re the type of person who ‘doesn’t own a TV,’ first of all, never say that. It’s not cool; everyone hates you,” Oliver said in the video posted today. “But second of all, you’re in luck.”

HBO Now, Oliver said, is “a lot like HBO Go, except you don’t have to rely on your parents’ password,” he said. “If you have the Internet, you can now enjoy tons of HBO programming whenever you want. And if you don’t have the Internet, wow, you should definitely get the Internet.” He said it is home of “some of the cutest and the most racist things you will ever see.”

Add this to the list of advantages a network enjoys when its news is delivered by a comic who is not subject to those pesky news-division propriety tests. Just this past Sunday, Oliver scored a real news coup when Last Week Tonight revealed he’d traveled to Russia to interview Edward Snowden, or as Oliver introduced him, “the most famous hero and/or traitor in recent American history.” Snowden has been living in Russia in exile after being charged with espionage over the leaking of classified documents related to NSA surveillance programs. Snowden was the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour, which aired on HBO.

“We thought you might want to check out a short video John Oliver recorded to explain what the HBO NOW service is all about,” HBO said this morning in a note to reporters.

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