A week after dedicating the bulk of an episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight to laying out the potential pitfalls of a U.K. decision to leave the European Union, British comedian John Oliver returned on Sunday night with a condemnation of the Brexit referendum results.
Discussing the seismic aftereffects of the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU, the British-born Oliver kicked off Sunday’s show by joking that after the events of the past week the name, the United Kingdom “is beginning to sound a bit sarcastic.” He went on: “Because the U.K. this week voted to leave the European Union, a decision that has shaken the world. And not in a, ‘Muhammad Ali beating Sonny Liston’ kind of way. More in a, ‘Those IKEA meatballs you love contain horse kind of way.’ And, the fallout in Britain has been swift and significant.”
In addition to the global financial fallout in the wake of the U.K.’s historic decision, Oliver noted the announcement that British Prime Minister David Cameron will resign as a result of the vote, due to the fact that Cameron had supported the “Remain” camp in the vote. And he talked about the upheaval that will ensue from the Brexit vote.
“It seems like whoever the next U.K. prime minister is going to be, whether it’s Boris Johnson or a racist tea kettle, they are going to be in for a rough few years,” he said.
Even though he said he’d normally take pleasure in Cameron leaving his post, he couldn’t now because he knew how horrible the Brexit fallout will be for the U.K. “David Cameron announced he would be stepping down in the wake of the vote, which should make me happy, but in this situation, it doesn’t,” he said. “It’s like catching an ice cream cone out of the air because a child was hit by a car. I mean, I’ll eat it, I’ll eat it — but it’s tainted somehow.”
Warning to America
Oliver also discussed Donald Trump’s reaction to the Brexit results after the presumptive GOP nominee compared the “Leave” supporters in the U.K. to his own supporters in the U.S. Oliver’s response? “You might think, ‘Well that is not going to happen to us in America. We’re not going to listen to some ridiculously haired buffoon, peddling lies and nativism in the hopes of riding a protest vote into power.’ Well let Britain tell you, it can happen, and when it does, there are no f—ing do-overs,” the comedian said.
The show then turned its attention to the 2016 Olympic Games, which kick off in Rio de Janeiro later this summer and which Oliver jokingly described as “your biannual reminder that NBC exists.” After quickly skewering the often treacly video segments featuring athletes’ backstories that typically run during networks’ Olympics coverage—Oliver called them “inspiration porn”—the comedian turned his attention to recent concerns over doping and drug-testing at this year’s games.
Oliver quoted a report estimating that 29% of athletes at the 2011 world championships admitted anonymously to doping within the previous year. He also noted that the incentive for athletes to cheat is immense, considering how much money is on the line for them as well as for the networks broadcasting the event and the organizations hosting. “There is a massive financial ecosystem dependent on spectacular athletic achievement in scandal-free games,” he said.
For instance, NBC has already sold more than $1 billion worth of advertising around this year’s Olympics and the network, in turn, is paying billions of dollars to the International Olympic Committee for the rights to televise the next several Olympic games. And, that’s not to mention the wide range of sponsor companies that strike deals with Olympic medal-winners to endorse their products. (“No professional swimmer wants a sandwich in the pool,” Oliver said with mock incredulity in reference to U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps’ commercials for sandwich chain Subway.)
In trying to explain how, despite strict testing, some athletes still get away with doping. Oliver displayed a graphic showing the convoluted process of how athletes are tested by various anti-doping agencies that receive oversight and funding from governments as well as the IOC itself. Oliver called the system “a sprawling mess” while pointing out how easy it is for corruption to spread throughout the system.
“This is all actually making FIFA look good . . . and, they’re basically just a mafia with slightly better branding,” Oliver said of soccer’s international governing body. It was an apt and scathing comparison from Oliver, considering the scale of scandals and corruption that have embroiled FIFA over the years.
To finish the show, Oliver introduced a video parodying the types of inspirational segments he’d mocked earlier in the show, except Last Week Tonight‘s version showed a fake athlete who trains for the Olympics by downing massive amounts of pills while practicing his preposterous excuses for how illegal substances could wind up in his bloodstream.
This story has been updated to include the video from John Oliver’s show.