Comic John Oliver on the rise 

click to enlarge John Oliver
  • Neilson Barnard/Getty Images file photo for Comedy Central
  • John Oliver, pictured during his summer gig filling in for “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, appears in The City to close out 2013.

It's been a robust 12 months for British comedian John Oliver, who is not about to let 2013 go without pointing out the year's most amusing moments.

"It's almost impossible to pick out just one," says Oliver, who appears at Cobb's Comedy Club in The City this weekend.

"Politically speaking, it has been a completely ludicrous year," he says. "The combined Anthony Weiner-Carlos Danger ticket running for mayor in New York was sensational. Mayor Rob Ford in Toronto having not so much a crack habit, but a crack commitment, was breathtaking."

Other peculiarities did not go unnoticed.

"The rise in popularity of Ted Cruz makes absolutely no sense on a political, or indeed human, level," he adds, "but I think the most ridiculous thing may have been the government shutdown. That was completely pointless. It literally achieved nothing."

One of 2013's most enigmatic political darlings, Oliver's showbiz star also is on the rise. The comic, who recently ended his seven-year stint as correspondent on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," landed his own weekly show on HBO set to debut in early 2014, airing on Sundays.

In the summer, he filled in as "Daily Show" host, a task he calls "a huge responsibility."

"I was desperate not to let Jon down," says Oliver, looking forward to his upcoming endeavor, which does not yet have a name. "At the moment, any thoughts about the new show are a combination of deep panic and extreme excitement. I can't wait for it to get going. I'm just hoping that HBO doesn't enforce the nudity clause in the contract."

Oliver's success as a comedian, political satirist and actor swelled after he appeared in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2001. By 2006, he joined "The Daily Show" as its senior British correspondent -- writing and appearing on camera -- and won three Emmys.

He also plays a recurring character on NBC's "Community" and his satirical comedy podcast, "The Bugle," boasts a huge audience.

But fans may be surprised about his earlier influences.

"Most of my inspirations growing up were soccer players," he admits. "Unfortunately, none of them managed to somehow inspire me to be better at soccer. In terms of comedy inspirations, I really loved Peter Cook, Monty Python, Armando Iannucci and Richard Pryor."

As for politics, he says the biggest difference between America and Britain is the price tag.

"Elections in Britain are over in five weeks and cost relatively little," he says. "In the U.S., it cost Mitt Romney 18 months and a billion dollars just to fail to live in the White House."

IF YOU GO

John Oliver

Where: Cobb's Comedy Club, 915 Columbus Ave, S.F.

When: 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Saturday through Dec. 30, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Dec. 31

Tickets: $35 to $60

Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com, www.cobbscomedy.com

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Greg Archer

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