Jon Stewart, John Oliver

“Daily Show” classics: Jon Stewart sends John Oliver off to a "Harry Potter" book release dressed as a Phillip Roth character

Before becoming the serial "truth-bomber" of Sunday night, Oliver served as "TDS's" Senior Literary Correspondent

Colin Gorenstein
July 31, 2015 2:00PM (UTC)

It feels like just yesterday the fresh-faced stand-up comedian from New Jersey — then described as “sharp” by The New York Times and “overeager” by The Chicago Tribune — was sitting down for his first-ever “Daily Show” interview. He fidgeted with the buttons on his oversized suit like a nervous bar mitzvah boy and, in refreshing contrast to comedy frat-boy predecessor Craig Kilborn, charmed viewers with a particular Woody Allen-ish brand of self-deprecating humor.

Now, after nearly two decades on the satirical-news program, Jon Stewart prepares to sign off one last time.

For the next three weeks, leading up to “The Daily Show” host’s August 6 departure, Salon will be taking a look back at some of Stewart’s most memorable moments spanning his 16 years and five months.

Today, we look back at the "Harry Potter" book launch from July 2007: 

For a certain subset of '90s kids (OK fine, we'll call them millennials), the release of the last book in the "Harry Potter" heptalogy signaled the end of an era. For John Oliver who, before becoming the serial "truth-bomber" of Sunday night served as the "Senior Literary Correspondent," it was the beginning of one. He was finally "entering into the spirit of fun."

In anticipation of "Deathly Hallows," (t-25 hours) Jon Stewart sent Oliver off to a New York bookstore where grade-schoolers in costumes had already begun setting up camp. Oliver hadn't exactly dressed the part; when asked what he was dressed as, Oliver confidently declared that his suit and tie was not a Harry Potter costume ("that would be trite!") but, instead, a Phillip Roth one. He was "Nathan Zuckerman."

That day, hackers had somehow managed to get their hands on a copy of the last book and leaked it. The kids at the book release seemed "blissfully unaware."

Good thing, too. Because as Oliver, who read the leaked copy, went on to reveal: Harry Potter suffers a grisly fate. He is decapitated by Ron. Ron turns out to be Voldemort's evil robot son. The end!


Stewart was convinced that leaking something as important and meaningful as a "Harry Potter" book was just about the meanest-spirited form of dickery you could commit. Oliver assured him: Maybe the hackers were just devising some sort of car that runs on the tears of children!

Miss you, "HP" book releases. Miss you, John Oliver the Senior Literary Correspondent.

Watch the clip courtesy of Comedy Central below:

Colin Gorenstein

Colin Gorenstein is Salon's assistant editor of internet and viral content. Follow @colingorenstein or email

MORE FROM Colin Gorenstein

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Daily Show Classics John Oliver Jon Stewart The Daily Show Video


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