The man who is about to become the host of one of the world’s most talked about current affairs shows has labelled Australia as among “the most comfortably racist places” he has ever visited after his experiences filming here over the last few days.
John Oliver, who has just spent several days in Australia filming for Comedy Central’s The Daily Show made the accusation in a podcast.
He flagged up racism towards people of Lebanese origin he said he heard during his visit to places including Sydney, Wagga Wagga and Wodonga.
Oliver, a member of The Daily Show’s news team since 2006, will become its presenter from June 4 while regular host Jon Stewart directs a film. In Australia, The Daily Show is broadcast on Foxtel on The Comedy Channel.
Speaking in his Bugle podcast, uploaded yesterday, Oliver described Australia as “a coastal paradise surrounding a rocky hell”. He said: “Australia turns out to be a sensational place, albeit one of the most comfortably racist places I’ve ever been in. They’ve really settled into their intolerance like an old resentful slipper.
“You can say what you like about Australian racism, it is undeniably specific. I had a couple of Australians – more than one – complain to me about all the ‘Lebbos’ in the country, referring apparently to the Lebanese. Who the fuck is annoyed by Lebanese people?
“In a way you have to admire the attention to detail. Not just all those Arabs, but the Lebanese. That’s like saying ‘You know who I can’t stand? Sri Lankans. Malaysians not a problem.Bangladeshis, lovely people, but Sri Lankans – I’ve got no time for them, Jose.’
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“How many Lebanese people can there actually be in Australia? There’s only just over four million of these people in fucking Lebanon.
“The one thing Australia cannot argue is: there’s no room here in this country because that land is fucking gigantic. That aside, fantastic place, can’t wait to go back.”
He also interviewed former PM John Howard. Oliver said Howard found it “An experience he didn’t seem to enjoy to his maximum capacity”.