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John Oliver: Cynic or Optimist?

Known for the vigour in which he challenges the absurdities of the status quo in America through penetrating and often eviscerating rants about social and political issues like sex education, gun laws, and marriage equality–you could easily mistake John Oliver for a cynic. But the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight and former political comic/correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, is an optimist through and through.

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In his live show, Oliver’s stories from his childhood elucidated his fortuitous path toward comedy and revealed that his optimistic outlook dated way back and was at least partly predicated on ignorance (mainly of his lack of athletic prowess).  Contrary to what you would expect of a satiric Englishman in New York, Oliver has an affectionate stance toward America and Americans; voicing an appreciation for the eclectic eccentricities of American people and culture (and buildings!).

Oddly, the most poignant evidence for Oliver’s optimism were his anecdotes involving pigeons.  If pigeons have the power to lifts spirits and provide comic relief in even the most dire of circumstances, then surely there is hope for all of us.

First published on Omnipsych.