Without knowledge of who he is and his exemplary career, John Oliver cuts an unassuming figure of a regular man but he is one of the most influential personalities in America, especially on television. Since he began his career in 1998, he has been a loud and unapologetic agent of change, using his wit and humor to force policy changes.
It is a skill and power that has won him several Emmy awards, Peabody Awards, a place in Time 100, and helped him star in major blockbusters like 2019’s The Lion King. For John Oliver, it is all a mind-blowing journey that began in the walls of Cambridge University in the 90s.
John Oliver’s Entertainment Career Began in College
John William Oliver first came into this world on April 23, 1977. Although he was born in Erdington, Birmingham, England, Oliver is of Liverpool, Merseyside origin. His father, Jim Oliver, was a social worker and school headmaster while his mother, Carole, was a music tutor.
Growing up, John Oliver attended the Mark Rutherford School in Bedford, England. After high school, he enrolled at Christ’s College, Cambridge where he pursued a degree in English, graduating in 1998. While at Cambridge, Oliver got his first taste of life as an entertainer after joining the college’s drama club – the Cambridge Footlights. There, he performed several shows, plays, and was peers with David Mitchell and Richard Ayoade, both of whom are accomplished comedians today.
His first notable comedic work outside of Cambridge walls came three years after graduation in 2001, at the Edinburgh Festive Fringe. He performed in The Comedy Zone, a late-night show at the festival for newer acts. From 2002 to 2003, he appeared on the BBC 3 television comedy series, The State We’re In, alongside Anita Rani, Jon Holmes, and Robin Ince. In 2002 too, he debuted as a solo act. He continues to work as one to date.
As a solo act, he has released a couple of specials, including his first, John Oliver: Terrifying Times. He also hosted four seasons of John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show and has been part of the USO tour to Afghanistan to perform for American troops.
He Found Fame with The Daily Show
A recommended by famed British comedian, Ricky Gervais, set John Oliver on the path to The Daily with Jon Stewart. He officially joined the Comedy Central show in July 2006, as its Senior British Correspondent. The unexpected beginning to his career in the US quickly became his platform for fame.
His writing became one of the cornerstones of the show’s success and popularity, and he won three Emmy Awards for them between 2009 and 2012. His appearances in different sketches also raised his profile as a comedic actor, and he got a chance to flex his comedy acting muscles on Community.
However, the peak of his success on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart came in the summer of 2013. He guest-hosted the show for eight weeks while Jon went on a break directing Rosewater. In those eight weeks, John received praise from critics and the audience for his performance. So much was the appreciation that he was considered the default successor to Jon Stewart in the role.
Those eight weeks became the lightning rod for a reputation and professional move that will define his career. Rather than wait for Jon Stewart to leave the show, John Oliver signed a deal with HBO to host its late-night show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
His HBO Show Made Him a TV Comedy Superstar
If The Daily Show brought him national fame, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver cemented his popularity and made him an international star. The show, which has a different format from other late-night talk shows, focuses on news, politics and current events with a satirical and explanatory look.
The first episode of the weekly half-hour show aired on April 27, 2014, and so far, has more than 197 episodes across seven seasons. John and the show have garnered a lot of media and critical accolades, winning 16 out of 36 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations.
Other awards include two Peabody Awards, five Producers Guild of America Awards, Webby Awards, GLAAD Media Awards, and five Writers Guild of America Awards. So far, the show has won 37 out of 78 awards since its debut in 2014.
In addition to verbal comedy, Oliver also ventured into comedic acting on television and film. His credits include Bleak House, People Like Us, My Hero, Green Wing, Gravity Falls, Rick and Morty, Bob’s Burgers, and several others.
John Oliver Has Made A Lot of Money Talking Truth to Power
John has amassed a significant amount of wealth with his media career spanning close to two decades. His income comes mainly from his profession as a comedian, TV host, and political commentator. With presence across different media forms, from TV to Film and Stand Up, Last Week Tonight remains his most significant source of income.
On the show, he earns up to $5 million a year, helping his net worth to a substantial $10 million. His net worth puts him among the richest late-night hosts in the US. Blessed with an infinite amount of resources at HBO for his show, John Oliver has committed some of it to philanthropy.
He has forgiven over $15 million worth of medical debt of more than 9,000 people in an on-air giveaway. John bought the debt for $60,000 and forgave it on the June 4, 2016, episode about Debt Buyers.
The Comedian Met His Wife At An RNC Convention
The famous comedian is happily married to Kate Norley, a U.S Army paramedic during the Iraqi war. Oliver and Norley met in 2008 at the Republican National Convention while he was making a piece for The Daily Show. Because of his notoriety, Oliver and his crew were under threat from security agents. Norley, who was present as a campaigner with Vets for Freedom, helped protect him from them.
They immediately became friends, and later, lovers. After several months of dating, Oliver popped the big question in July 2010. The two of them sealed their love with a nuptial bond in October 2011. The couple presently has two sons together.
Their first son, Hudson Oliver was born on November 12, 2015, after five years of marriage. Hudson was born prematurely but healthy. Their second son arrived in 2018. The couple, however, kept his birth a secret until three months after.
John Oliver’s wife, Kate Norley was born on May 25, 1978, in Arlington, Virginia where she attended the Episcopal High School. She joined the U.S Army in the year 2001 at the age of 23. Kate, a veteran, works as a rights advocate for the U.S political advocacy organization, Vets for Freedom. She is also a member of Team Rubicon, a non-profit foundation that caters to victims of natural disasters across the globe.