21 questions

‘Daily Show’ Correspondent John Oliver Fears We’re in the End Times

John Oliver

Photo: Getty Images

Name: John Oliver

Age: 29

Job: Daily Show correspondent and advisory-board member to Dave Eggers’s writing program, 826NYC; performing in 826NYC’s fund-raiser, McSweeney’s Presents: The World, Explained, at Symphony Space tonight

Neighborhood: West Village

Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
I like the sound of Emily Warren Roebling. Anyone who can finish building the Brooklyn Bridge whilst finding time to be a member of Daughters of the American Revolution is okay by me. Although her implied support of the Boston Tea Party is appalling. The only time throwing tea into the sea would be acceptable would be if you’d pre-boiled the ocean. And added a splash of milk.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
What you have to understand is that since arriving from England, almost everything that I’ve put in my face has contained flavors that I had only previously read about. We in Britain stopped evolving gastronomically with the advent of the pie. Everything beyond that seemed like a brave, frightening new world. We knew the French were up to something across the Channel, but we didn’t want anything to do with it.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
I turn up, write down a bunch of lies, read them into a camera, and then leave.

Where do you get your coffee?
I presume you mean kwafee. I get my kwafee wherever kwafee is served. I love that bean.

What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway?
A man throwing up in a bin.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
Certainly. Of course, to do that I’d need to travel back in time to the last time the word panhandler was used. But once I’d achieved that, I’d certainly give them half a crown or so.

What’s your drink?
I don’t really drink alcohol much, but when I do, I like whiskey.

How often do you prepare your own meals?
Not nearly as much as I used to before coming here.

What’s your favorite medication?
Sport. There is no greater anesthetic than sport.

What’s hanging above your sofa?
I don’t know, why — what have you heard? If you must know, it’s a life-size knitted effigy of General Cornwallis. He is made from 36 different brightly colored wools and is strung from my ceiling. But don’t tell anyone.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
If it goes into three figures and takes longer than a half an hour, you had better be a member of the Rolling Stones.

When’s bedtime?
I do not think in terms of bedtime, only story time.

Brunch: pro or con?
Who on earth would be against brunch? What kind of sadistic cynic would set out their stall against a late breakfast? There are frankly bigger problems in the world than people enjoying a meal around eleven o’clock. Even the concept of that question is divisive. Is this country not polarized enough? Come on, this is just what the terrorists want.

What’s your thread count?
What on earth are you talking about?

What do you hate most about living in New York?
The people. I hope that comes across as ironic in print, or I’m in for a difficult couple of weeks.

What’s your brand of jeans?
I like Queen Victoria’s self-made brand of jeans. She designed them whilst mourning for Prince Albert and forced the entire British public to wear them for five years. They had little crowns on the back pockets. I think you can still get them in a jeans boutique round the back of Buckingham Palace. But Levi Strauss stole her idea, and the rest is hotly disputed history.

When’s the last time you drove a car?
I drove a car in Chillicothe, Ohio. Because if you’re going to drive anywhere in the United States, there really is nowhere better than Chillicothe.

Who should be the next president?
You’re assuming that the current president is not going to have ended the world by then.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
Times. Is that a trick question?

Yankees or Mets?
Mets. The Yankees are associated with Manchester United, a football team back home. And as a Liverpool fan, I cannot have anything to do with Manchester United. I just can’t.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
Isn’t it “Who makes someone a New Yorker?” I was told that Giuliani bestowed New Yorker status upon people like knighthoods. If you want to be a New Yorker, you kneel before him, and he taps each of your shoulders with a baseball bat. Have I been lied to?

‘Daily Show’ Correspondent John Oliver Fears We’re in the End Times