John Oliver bade farewell to The Daily Show last night with lighthearted jokes and bittersweet tears. It was his last appearance on the show, as he is leaving for his own series on HBO, and host Jon Stewart honored his senior correspondent with a series of touching montage tributes.
But all of this reminiscing came as a surprise to Oliver. After starting a bit about the British royal family's phone-hacking controversy, he was interrupted by Stewart, who revealed that their whole day's worth of work on the segment had been a ruse. "There's only one British royal I care about tonight," Stewart said, "and his name is Prince John Oliver."
So began a trip down memory lane for the Daily Show duo. Stewart ribbed Oliver for his one-dimensional approach to comedy, dryly joking that he played "a broad range of characters from different backgrounds" as he showed clips of Oliver riffing in repetitive Dickensian-urchin manner. They then looked back on some of Oliver's more "sophisticated" bits – which included clips of massive erections, "back balls" and air-humping – and ran a climactic montage of his work as a field reporter, including "South Africa: The Amazing Racists" and a hilarious segment that lampooned the RNC meeting in Hawaii.
Oliver was overcome with emotion after the field reporting montage, but he did manage to use his finest Miss America wave as the audience and Stewart gave a standing ovation. After exchanging a heartfelt hug with his correspondent, Stewart lightened the mood by cueing up Mystikal's "Danger" (used this past summer to parody Anthony "Carlos Danger" Weiner) for a brief throwback dance party.
Over his seven-and-a-half years on The Daily Show, Oliver developed into a crucial player on the series with his sharp satirical style and distinctive delivery. He even served as Stewart's temporary replacement this summer while the host was away directing his first film, Rosewater.
"I'm incredibly excited to be joining HBO, especially as I presume this means I get free HBO now," Oliver told Deadline last month. "I want to thank Comedy Central and everyone at The Daily Show for the best seven-and-a-half years of my life. But most of all, I'd like to thank Jon Stewart. He taught me everything I know. In fact, if I fail in the future, it's entirely his fault."