John Early Is Figuring Out How to Be Sincere

As the star of the sharp new indie ‘Stress Positions,’ the irreverent comic works in a more serious vein. He tells Cracked why he’s getting comfortable with being earnest — even if he’s scared everyone will think he’s pretentious

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John Oliver’s Comedy Career Hit Rock Bottom When He Performed in Between A Stunt Farter and A Professional Puker

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John Oliver’s Comedy Career Hit Rock Bottom When He Performed in Between A Stunt Farter and A Professional Puker

On its own, bombing is hardly rock-bottom for an up-and-coming comedian — after all, the only way to get good at stand-up is to fail repeatedly. But there’s something especially demoralizing about losing a room when the guy who farted on the microphone before you and the one who puked up a goldfish after you both killed.

Like most comics with careers of his caliber, John Oliver’s path to HBO success and Emmy adoration was often a rocky one. Emerging from the English college comedy circuit as a contemporary of artists like David Mitchell and Richard Ayoade, Oliver was a pasty, dark-haired, bespectacled intellectual comic trying to make a name for himself in a stand-up industry that wasn’t undergoing any pressing shortage of pasty, dark-haired, bespectacled nerds. 

In fact, what English audiences at the time actually wanted was something a little more visceral — they pined for pungent performances and gutsy gags, as Oliver explained during his appearance on last night’s episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Though Oliver considers his lackluster performance at the University of East Anglia sandwiched between such base acts to be his lowest point, he actually should have been honored to share the stage with one Mr. Methane, a world-famous “flatulist” best known by American audiences for his appearances as the “British Blaster” on The Howard Stern Show. Born Paul Oldfield, Mr. Methane discovered his digestive talents while practicing yoga at 15 years old, and he’s shown his skills on talent competition shows, in a self-produced parody album called mrmethane.com and even in a short stint on Broadway.

Put simply, Oliver’s annoyance at being overshadowed by Mr. Methane’s cloud could be a simple instance of jealousy, much like a comedic Antonio Salieri raging against a more talented Mozart. Oliver better not push his luck with the Mr. Methane slander — any day now, HBO might recruit Mr. Methane for his own satirical news program to rival Last Week Tonight. Some of Oliver’s repetitive digs at Donald Trump already play like wet farts.

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