When John Oliver left “The Daily Show” in December to launch a new weekly show on HBO, host Jon Stewart surprised him with a video tribute to his 7-1/2 years on the Comedy Central show. Overcome with emotion, Oliver broke down in tears and gave Stewart a very heartfelt hug by way of departure. Many fans at the time were charmed by this genuine display of emotion.
But Oliver’s friends back in England hated it.
In advance of the premiere of his new HBO show, “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” the comedian appeared on “The Tonight Show,” where host Jimmy Fallon quizzed him about his on-air sobbing.
“I thought I was OK until [Stewart] said, ‘Are you all right?’,” Oliver said. “And that’s when I burst into tears.”
But 24 hours later, when the show aired in the UK, the text messages began.
“I knew the minute it went out because I started getting abusive texts from my friends back home,” Oliver said. “‘Oh you are not crying on American TV. Tell me this gets funny soon. Lose this number. Never call me again.’”
So why didn’t the moment translate across the pond?
“We’re suspicious of emotion,” Oliver said of his English brethren. “It’s weakness.... You are bringing shame upon your family name to show emotion of any color.”