Comedy coverage of World Cup on 'The Daily Show'

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The Independent Culture

The US has begun to awaken to World Cup fever as the rest of the world watches the largest quadrennial global sporting event, with comedy news program The Daily Show dedicating a special segment tothe matches and festivities.

The American television audience for the opening of the World Cup nearly doubled from four years ago with nearly 13 million people watching the US and England match with a 1-1 tie on June 12. The US purchased more tickets than any other country outside of Africa.

Not only is ABC-TV and ESPN covering the matches on television, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, on US cable channel Comedy Central, part of MTV Networks, has also jumped aboard the soccer bandwagon.

Similar to a news program, the show which offers political and social commentary, has scheduled special coverage by "senior foreign sports correspondent," John Oliver, an Englishman, who is filing ongoing reports. Entitled "World Cup 2010: Into Africa," this multi-part presentation will follow the matches from comedian Oliver's unique perspective in the field.

"As a little boy, my only dream was to one day play for England in the World Cup. It seems that the closest I will ever get to that dream is to go to the World Cup and make fun of it," said Oliver. "If these pieces result in anything less than soccer becoming the number one sport in America, I will deem them a total failure."

Oliver launched his coverage prior to the US team heading to Johannesburg, by attending a match with the Czech Republic played close to New York, and mocking the US players in a show of partisan attitude rather than an objective journalistic approach.

The crew will embed with the US soccer team, Oliver will also sit down with the acting South African ambassador, look at the first "African" World Cup, and, as the press release explains, "examine the current state of race relations and, finally, celebrat[e] the true spirit of the game."

Most often correspondents/writers on The Daily Show perform in front of a green screen image of the location in which they're reporting. This time, Oliver and his producer will travel to Johannesburg, South Africa. The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning show did travel to Iran in 2009.

The show airs on Comedy Central at 11 pm and can be viewed by more than 98 million homes in the US.  Excerpts from the show and Oliver's reports can be viewed online at: