John Oliver, 38
In an era marked by the rise of 140 characters, Oliver has bucked the trend by drawing viewers in huge numbers to his Sunday night HBO show Last Week Tonight. The Jon Stewart disciple tackles complicated and thorny issues with deep dives into injustices like tax exemptions for televangelists, the plight of chicken farmers at the hands of big processors, and even NSA surveillance through an in-person interview with Edward Snowden in Russia. Oliver claims to be no more than a comedian, but he has a powerful impact on the topics he touches, a phenomenon dubbed the John Oliver Effect. A Ninth Circuit court judge cited his segment on U.S. territory rights in a class-action suit in Guam. Oliver is single-handedly proving people can both laugh and be moved to action at the same time.