Perhaps best known as the Senior British Correspondent on the fake news broadcast “The Daily Show,” comedian John Oliver said he knows USF since its alumni list includes fellow correspondent Aasif Mandvi.
However, he acknowledged it was also the alma mater of watermelon-smashing prop comic Gallagher.
“There’s the bookends of comedy, then, that (USF has) produced,” Oliver said.
Oliver said he actively avoided comics like the latter when choosing the lineup for the second season of his Comedy Central series “John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show.”
Each episode starts with an introductory bit by Oliver, followed by four standup acts. More well-known performers like “Anchorman” actor David Koechner and “The Comedians of Comedy” act Maria Bamford end with the show’s longest sets.
The second episode airs tonight at midnight after “The Colbert Report,” and features Deon Cole, Moshe Kasher, Marina Franklin and Bamford – who Oliver said was probably his favorite comic.
He said his goal with “John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show” was to wash away the bad taste of past Comedy Central stand-up shows that were often “absolutely terrible.”
“I think it was a chance to get some slightly more imaginative comedians than would normally thrive on a compilation show and get them together,” Oliver said.
In particular, he singled out the caustically witty Mike Lawrence, who will make his first-ever television appearance on the fourth episode.
“He in particular (stood out) because he’s very new,” Oliver said. “He had worked in a McDonald’s in Miami for the last seven years, so he’s come out of that very funny cocoon and is doing some really fantastically impressive stand-up.”
Oliver said the tight, weekend-long filming for the six-week series brought all 20 comedians close together – to the point that he believes first-episode performer Pete Holmes gave him a virus.
“He was quite sick during it and he’s speaking into the same microphone, so I’m pretty sure he gave me a cold for the next week,” Oliver said.
Between appearing on “The Daily Show,” the NBC sitcom “Community” and the weekly podcast “The Bugle,” Oliver said he doesn’t have much time left over in his schedule for stand-up.
Yet the series offers about an hour’s worth of new material from Oliver on subjects ranging from people who don’t swear to a snowstorm stranding him in Germany.
When considering the best stand-up gigs he’s ever seen, Oliver recalled seeing Marc Maron in America and Stewart Lee in England – and one show outside the stand-up format.
“I saw Tom Waits play in London and not only was he incredible musically, he was also unbelievably funny,” Oliver said.
Oliver said the second season’s comedian lineup seemed like a success with the New York audience.
“Hopefully, we can draw the same kind of crowd on TV as well,” Oliver said.