A LITTLE LATE TO THE PARTY, BUT: THREE SMART THINGS JOHN OLIVER SAID ABOUT WRITING COMEDY

In the 2/22/16-3:6/16 edition of New York Magazine
  1. 1.
    On learning from Jon Stewart:
    "It was amazing, watching him cut some of the best jokes, and he was always right. By taking out what seems like the funniest joke, everything else would get funnier and make more sense, because that funny joke was a digression. Or the story shifted a bit so that the joke is an orphan…and that orphan must be destroyed. That's a big lesson to learn, because the funniest thing is something that you're innately protective of."
  2. 2.
    On turning news stories into comedy:
    "This is a lesson from The Daily Show: the funny stuff is easier. You should be able to write jokes pretty quickly. The jokes are kind of the window dressing, but you need to make sure that they're hanging on something solid, because if that story falls apart, all the jokes fall apart too."
  3. 3.
    On how Dan Harmon taught him to keep working on a script way past the point it was "fine":
    "Once you've got it to 'fine,' people walk away. From that point, it's a lot of sweat and a lot of pain to make a piece barely perceptibly better. But if you could do that six times, make it incrementally better, cold it's at 10% better, and that's actually a big deal."