Biden & The Border: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver | Transcript

John Oliver discusses the things Biden has promised to fix about our southern border, what he has and hasn’t done, and a magnificent pile of gators.
Biden & The Border: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Season 10 Episode 10
Aired on April 30, 2023

Main segment: Immigration policy of the Joe Biden administration
Other segments: Coronation of Charles III and Camilla, World premiere of Radiant Plumbing’s “Magtoiletolia” commercial

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[Cheers and applause]

John: welcome, welcome, welcome to “Last Week Tonight!” I’m John Oliver. Thank you so much for joining us. It has been a busy week. Fox News found itself looking for a new host of “White Grievance Tonight.” Montana lawmakers barred trans representative Zooey Zephyr from the house floor. And Matthew McConaughey gave a motivational seminar titled “the art of livin’.” I can’t show you all of it, but here is just a taste.

In 1999, I just had a dream that I was floating down a river, naked, wrapped up in anacondas, sharks, piranhas and crocodiles, and lined along the ridge of the river, there were thousands of African tribesmen, each holding a shield and a spear. And it wasn’t a nightmare. Actually, it was a wet dream.

John: Wow, what a twist at the end there. “I know my dream might’ve contained some pretty dicey racial imagery there, but would it help to know that, at the end of it, I ejaculated?” That event was—and this is true—five and a half hours long, and I’m not sure what lesson you’re supposed to learn from it other than: if you try to do drugs with Matthew McConaughey, you will die.
But we’re going to start in the UK, where the economy’s in turmoil, and the Bank of England’s chief economist recently said that “we’re all worse off and we all have to take our share.” Which makes it a less-than-ideal time for this to be happening.

This morning the country is coronation ready with only one week to go until the big day. Buckingham Palace is releasing these three brand-new images of the soon to be crowned King and Queen. Last-minute preparations are feverishly underway; from late-night rehearsals involving hundreds of British military personnel on horseback, to polishing the grand coaches the King and Queen will travel in.

John: Yes, the coronation of the world’s least likable orphan is less than a week away now. Meaning, they’re really going through with it I guess. They’re actually going to print banknotes with the image of a man whose face only a mother could love and only two cousins could produce.
The coronation is happening on Saturday, and while preparations have been going on for months now, they’ve also hit some speed bumps, especially when it comes to booking musical acts for the “coronation concert.”

Many top British performers won’t be singing for the King. According to Rolling Stone, stars like Adele and the Spice Girls. All reportedly turning the opportunity down. Elton John, who regularly performed at concerts for the Queen. Telling Rolling Stone he has scheduling issues.

John: Yeah, of course he does. Elton John was famously close friends with Diana. In his autobiography, he even called her, “incredibly indiscreet, a real gossip: you could ask her anything and she’d tell you.” Just look at them together! That is the face of a man listening to the best gossip about her husband that’s he’s ever heard, while still trying to appear sympathetic. Charles, Elton John knows things about you. And not just the tampon thing. Way worse than the tampon thing. So no, he will not be playing at your big fancy party. And to be honest? You don’t want him there.
And look, this is clearly a big moment in British history, but it’s also a reminder how intertwined the monarchy is with the grimmer moments of that history. The chair in which Charles will sit is apparently missing a corner, thanks to a bomb attack in 1914 thought to be organized by suffragettes. And they avoided having Camilla use this crown during the coronation, because it contains the Koh-i-noor diamond, which, y’know… Google it. It’s not that I don’t want to explain it to you, it’s just that a person who sounds like me, britsplaining the Koh-i-noor diamond is, technically, a war crime.


And all of this comes as young Britons are increasingly turning against the monarchy. One poll found that only a third actively back it. That poll, by the way, also asked “do you think King Charles in in touch, or out of touch, with the experiences of the British public?” And I don’t know. Is this guy out of touch? This guy? Is this guy– sorry, that’s his brother with Jeffrey Epstein. Is this guy? Out of touch? Who can really say? Still, Britain’s going all-in to whip up enthusiasm. This chocolate bust of Charles was produced. Which might look even more like him once it melts slightly in the sun. And then there was the announcement of the coronation’s official dish.

The King and Queen consort have unveiled their coronation quiche. The savory tart will be served at big lunches celebrating next month’s event.

A crisp, light pastry case, filled with the delicate flavors of spinach, broad beans, and fresh tarragon. But at Buckingham Palace, it seems it might not tickle all modern taste buds.

I’m fine with the spinach, but I’ll pass on the broad beans.

I ain’t going to lie to you, that sounds disgusting.

John: Yeah, it does! But to be fair, that’s because it’s a quiche. It’s pie’s weird camp friend. And on quiche’s best day, it’s nothing. The most a quiche can ever hope to make you feel is, “slightly more full of quiche.” Although I will say, the coronation quiche might be a perfect fit for Charles, because it’s spectacularly ordinary and contains an unlikeable combination of ingredients. Still, it’s taken up a truly stupid amount of time on British tv. Chefs have made it, hosts have discussed it, people have eaten it, but the quiche coverage reached its absurd apex when Nigel Farage appeared on australian tv to try and politicize it.

So, we learned today that the official coronation cake is a vegan quiche. How boring. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. My heart sunk when I saw that news this morning.

John: Sorry to interrupt, but your heart sank when you saw that news? There are wars going on, Nigel. Every day the earth gets one degree closer to death and it looks like Carrie is getting back together with Aiden, but this is what mustered emotion out of you? Also, for the record, it’s not vegan. Quiche is pretty famously an egg based dish. Vegans don’t eat eggs. You’d know that if you’d ever listened to a vegan. It’s not that hard, they’re literally always talking about it.
Believe it or not, that segment even continued.

I think what we’re looking at here or what we’re warming up to potentially is the austerity coronation. Ugh. To make sure that we’re all as environmentally sensible as we possibly can be, and so in keeping with that, they have produced the dullest, most uninspiring, and most politically correct dish that has ever been produced for a major occasion in this country. It is truly ghastly.

John: I mean, I do kind of get where he’s coming from. You could argue this is a belt-tightening dish for a country whose economy is struggling. And it kind of makes you wonder what pack of dipshits drove Britain off a financial cliff in the first place, but I guess a “former Brexit leader” wouldn’t know anything about that.
And look, at the end of the day, the reason everyone’s desperately talking about Charles wanting everyone to have bean quiche at his fake job party is that it’s clearly more interesting than he is. Which is a problem for the monarchy. But there are some potential fixes here. If I may, when it comes to the quiche, you could replace the beans with caramelized leeks. You could swap out the cheddar with gruyere, and a dash of goat cheese. Also, you could add a drizzle of honey for some balance, maybe spicy honey for some depth if you’re feeling cheeky. Then, to serve—and this part’s crucial—I’d recommend taking that quiche, and throwing it straight in the fucking trash, along with the monarchy itself, so that Britain can finally stop hemorrhaging money supporting a family of lightly inbred billionaires. And now this.

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Announcer: and now, is Matthew McConaughey okay?

Yes, the future is foggy. And it seems like on this highway called life, everybody’s got their hazards lights on. You know, my appetite might be your indigestion. Your appetite might make my stomach queasy. We are not always all ready to change from the caterpillar to the butterfly. Sometimes we want to cocoon. Those very truths, duties, and tools. Those are what we are going to need to build that rocket ship to get us to those stars that we are shooting for. Whether it’s the future of the unknown or our flaws. We have to look the monster in the eye. And hold that son of a bitch’s gaze. You can measure your mistrust in ounces, but you can measure trust in pounds. Because I believe the recipe for your particular secret sauces under the hood of what you do well. Not what you don’t. Now I fall down, I get up and dust myself off like that. I step in a pile of shit, I keep running while I’m cleaning that shit off my shoe on the go. If I step in the same pile of shit every I’m around the bend because I never take stock or inventory of where that pile of shit that I keep stepping in was.

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John: Moving on. Our main story tonight concerns immigration. It’s the reason I’m here. Well, the reason I’m “in this country.” Not the reason I exist. The reason for that should be obvious: a tax accountant fucked a stork, and voila, here I am! Specifically, we’re going to talk about the situation on our southern border. And I know what you’re thinking: you’re thinking, finally, someone is going to address the magnificent statue in El Paso known as “pile o’ gators,” featuring what looks like a bunch of horny reptiles engaging in a sloppy swamp orgy. But while that’s certainly a situation on the border, it’s sadly not “the situation,” which refers to what’s going on with migrants down there. And if you ask politicians on the right, that situation can be best summed up like this.

Our border is wide open and out of control and Americans are dying because of it.

The truth is that there is an invasion happening at our southern border.

Migrants are absolutely invading this country.

Our country is under attack. America is being invaded. No American is safe.

John: Okay. Let’s first acknowledge the irony of cowardly freaking out about migrants in front of a sign that reads “Mr. Strong.” Never before has a name plate felt so intensely sarcastic. But also, setting aside the blatant xenophobia there, are the two of you wearing matching outfits? Because it sure feels like you met up at men’s wearhouse, made a beeline for “the Caucasian collection,” picked out the exact same suit, and then wore it like “tweedledum” and “tweedle-deportation.”
The right has been fearmongering about immigration even more than usual lately. And to be fair– actually, I don’t have to be fair. Fuck them. But to be fairer than they actually deserve, there is a lot happening at the border right now. The number of migrant encounters there, which was rising before Biden came into office, reached a record high last year. Now, that’s happened for a number of reasons, including we’re coming out of a global pandemic, and multiple countries, from Haiti to Venezuela to Ukraine, are in crisis right now. So there’s a high number of people forced to flee their homes. Plus, some asylum seekers may, understandably, have been encouraged by Biden’s rhetoric on the campaign trail, which was notably different than his opponent.

Look, I can only imagine what it’s like to see someone in your family deported. That’s right. I can only imagine what that’s like. And I’ve– to me, it’s all about family. Beginning, middle, and end, it’s about family. That’s not going to happen in my administration. The idea you can’t even seek asylum on American soil? Can’t even seek asylum on American soil? When did that happen? Trump. It’s wrong.

You’re going to change that?

Yes, I am.

John: Yeah, it’s all about family, beginning middle and end, whatever the fuck that means. A pretty empty phrase from a presidential candidate, but to be honest, a pretty good tagline for “Fast X.” It’s only mildly less comprehensible than “The End of the Road Begins.”
But at the time, that promise sounded good. It’s worth remembering that even if Biden wasn’t your favorite candidate– even if he was your least favorite candidate– after four years of Trump, that was pretty refreshing. It’s like wandering through the sahara desert for four years and all of a sudden seeing a Panera. I mean, it’s not necessarily paradise in its own right, but compared with what you just went through? You’d kill for an Asiago turkey sandwich and a lemonade, no question.
Promises like that are why we cited Biden’s potential to undo Trump’s damage on immigration as a key reason to vote for him, just a week before the election. Now, did we make the difference? Who can say? Nurses are the real heroes. Unfortunately, when it comes to the southern border, biden has disappointed in a lot of ways. But it’s not because he’s opened up the country to an “invasion” it’s actually, in many ways, the opposite. Many migrants, including asylum seekers, are finding it impossible to access this country through our ports of entry, and the conditions they are facing are dire. In many border cities shelters and detention centers are reportedly near capacity, with the director of one of them saying, “every day I turn away at least ten families with children.” And just last month, at least 40 people died when a migrant center caught fire. And frustratingly, a lot of this has been exacerbated by U.S. policies that are well within Biden’s power to remedy. And yet, he hasn’t. And that’s basically what our story is about tonight. It’s about what Biden promised to do, what he has and hasn’t done, and how his latest efforts to fix things might actually make them worse.
And first, let’s acknowledge it’s impossible to assess what Biden’s done at the border without looking at what he inherited. Trump campaigned on high-octane xenophobia, and his policies reflected that, from large-scale family separation to attacking Daca, to his so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy, which led to massive encampments of would-be asylum seekers, south of the border. And Trump approached all of it with his signature clarity.

The immigration laws are horrible. We’re doing an incredible job. We’re doing a record-breaking job, but we have bad laws. You know when you have bad laws you can do good but you can do a lot better if you had good laws.

John: Okay, that’s obviously total gibberish, but if you look at what he’s saying closely there, you’ll find it’s also, and this is true, a haiku.


I’m kidding, it’s absolutely not, but wouldn’t it be great if it was? If that buffoon was capable of accidental beauty? But it’s not, and he isn’t. So we’re back to square one. Now, to Biden’s credit, he created a task force to reunify the separated families, he strengthened protections around Daca, and he suspended the “Remain in Mexico” policy. And yet, there remain huge numbers of people, stuck just south of the border, in camps that look an awful lot like the ones that were there during Trump. And a significant reason for that has to do with a policy called Title 42, which allows the U.S. to kick migrants out of the country with shocking ease. And we’ve talked about it before, but just as a refresher: it’s not actually an immigration law at all. It’s an arcane public health order, aimed at preventing the spread of communicable diseases. The Trump administration implemented it in march of 2020, invoking it as a safety precaution intended to prevent Covid-19 from spreading through border patrol stations. But the truth is, long before Covid, its use had been floated by Stephen Miller, a child’s answer to the prompt, “draw squidward from memory.” In fact, the invocation of Title 42 was referred, to “a Stephen Miller special he was all over that,” a sentence I hope no one has to speak or hear ever again. And Miller has bragged about Title 42’s sweeping powers.

The principle of it is very simple, which is that, during a pandemic, if you come into this country, your very presence here, if you enter unlawfully, is a threat to our public health, full stop. You go home.

John: Okay first, I’m pretty sure if you played the sound of Stephen Miller’s voice in a maternity ward, a newborn infant would instinctively say– despite not having any knowledge of the English language– “shut the fuck up.” Because that “threat to our public health” line was bullshit. While Trump claimed the order originated with the CDC, one former health official said they were effectively forced to implement it, adding it was either do it or get fired. In fact, the CDC scientist said there was no evidence the action would slow the spread of coronavirus. The reason Trump seized on it is pretty obvious. Under normal circumstances, migrants have the legal right to ask for asylum, no matter where they cross the border. But like Incel Caillou said, Title 42 gave the government the power to rapidly expel any migrant without giving them an opportunity to make a case for staying in the country legally, including to seek asylum. And you’d hope that, upon taking office, Biden would move as fast as possible to get rid of it. But instead, his administration’s been all over the place. Just a few months into his presidency, his secretary of homeland security sent this message to potential migrants.

The message is quite clear. Do not come. The border is closed. The border is secure. We are expelling families. We are expelling single adults under the CDC’s authority under Title 42 of the United States code because we are in the midst of a pandemic, and that is a public health imperative.

John: Except it wasn’t a public health imperative, and everyone knew it. And look, if you’re going to parrot Trump’s harmful talking points, at least throw in some of the funny ones as well. Every time you do a press conference to bolster some bullshit xenophobic policy like Title 42, you also have to go off on a tangent about how Robert Pattinson should have dumped kristen stewart. It is the least you can do.
For months afterward, the Biden administration let the policy stand, and even at one point defended it in court. Then, to be fair, they did try to end it, only for a federal judge to block those efforts, with reporting at the time indicating the “ruling was met with a sigh of relief inside the White House.” Moreover, Biden actually expanded who could be expelled to mexico under title 42. Because while the order initially allowed the U.S. to do that with migrants from these four countries, he chose to broaden it, first to include Venezuelan migrants, and later to those from Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua. And the administration will point out– and not wrongly– that they have issued humanitarian exemptions to Title 42. It’s estimated that around 187,000 migrants were granted exemptions from may of last year to just last month. But not only is that a fraction of those seeking asylum, the administration’s been criticized for a lack of clarity and consistency in who is eligible. And in general, some have argued there’s been a pretty glaring discrepancy in who the country has, and hasn’t, decided to allow in.

At a migrant shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, claims of a double standard: special treatment for Ukrainians fleeing the war and being admitted to the U.S.

I love that the government is helping them, because they– they’re going through a really hard situation.

But that’s not what happens for people here.

Exactly. We should all be treated the same– the same way.

How do you guys account for the difference in the treatment between them and you guys?



John: Yeah, of course. “Racism.” Is the answer to so many questions, like, “why are some people treated differently at the border?” “Why did Roseanne Barr get fired?” And “why does your grandpa insist on pronouncing “Kamala” the way he does?” And Title 42– including Biden’s expanded use of it– has functionally robbed people of their basic right to make an asylum case for themselves. Which can be devastating. Just listen to this honduran migrant talk about getting all the way to America with his family, on the presumption he’d be able to apply for asylum, only to be taken into custody, and woken up one day with an unpleasant surprise.

One of us asked, “where are you taking us? Is it true we’re being deported?” They said, “no, we’re not deporting you. We’re taking you to a shelter, and you can keep going from there.” And that was a lie. They tricked us. When we got off the bus, we saw the sign that said Tijuana, baja California. That’s when we realized we’d been sent back. So you didn’t realize until you were already in Mexico? Right. Once we were already here.

John: Look, that’s clearly not how immigration policy should work. Under no circumstances should people on a bus be lied to about where it’s going, unless that is, it’s a bachelorette party bus and they’re demanding to be taken to another bar even though one of them already threw up on a pigeon. In that case, and that case alone, you say “sure,” you swing by CVS for some Pedialyte, and take them back to their Airbnb. And because many migrants can’t return to the country that they were fleeing, they wind up stuck on our southern border– or trying repeatedly to get back into the country, often at their own peril. More than 890 migrants died in border crossings last year, making it the deadliest year since the U.S. government began tracking border crossing deaths.
And for those stuck in Mexico, the experience can be harrowing. One group found that, since 2021, there’ve been over 13,000 reports of murder, torture, kidnapping, rape, and other violent attacks on migrants and asylum seekers blocked in or expelled to Mexico under Title 42.
Now, the good news is, Title 42 may be about to expire. And the reason for that is, when the broader Covid public health emergency ends on may 11th, Title 42 is expected to expire with it. The bad news though, with with over two years to plan, Biden’s new proposed rule may not be much of an improvement. For one thing, asylum seekers will now be expected to make an appointment at a point of entry, through a new government app that Biden proudly announced in January.

If they’re seeking asylum, they can use an app on their cell phone called Cbp One– o-n-e. Cbp One o-n-e. That’s to spell it out, not the number one.

John: Thanks for spelling it out! That helps a great deal. This is that app, and as you can see, its icon apparently features– I don’t know what else this could be– a border patrol agent with a raging boner. It has been in use since January, as a way for people to request exemptions to Title 42, and the early results aren’t great.

Every morning at 9 am, women frantically try to refresh the government app hoping to get an appointment to enter the U.S. We watched with Karina Breceda who runs the shelter. By 9:05, all the appointments, and hope, were gone.

It’s lottery with people’s lives, with people’s families, with people’s livelihoods, with people’s well-being.

John: That is horrible. We clearly shouldn’t be placing peoples’ fate in the hands of a smartphone app. And don’t get me wrong, apps can serve a lot of functions. For example, this one’s for messaging your friends, this one’s for receiving robocalls, this one’s for seeing what your mom is up to, this one’s for accidentally turning it on, muttering “shit,” and finally turning it off after a minimum of three tries, this one’s for watching democracy crumble while Cher tweets the most baffling series of emojis you’ve ever seen, and this one’s for looking at photos of pugs who make a better living than you do.
The point here is, we use apps for many purposes, but “reserving an appointment to try to secure the safety of your family” probably shouldn’t be one of them. As of right now, only about 740 people per day can get appointments through the app. But since there are obviously far more people who need them, a day’s appointments can run out within minutes, which is why some have dubbed the app “asylum Ticketmaster”— a truly terrifying combination of words. And just take a moment to appreciate how shitty of a company Ticketmaster is. People saw vulnerable migrants being robbed of their ability to seek asylum and thought, “hey, you know what this reminds me of? Ticketmaster, a company about concerts.”
What’s more, many asylum seekers have outdated cellphones—if they have them at all—that don’t support the CBP one app and often have limited or no access to the internet. And on top of all this, it requires people to upload a selfie. And its facial recognition technology has worked better for some than for others.

Even for digitally savvy migrants, the experience has been a challenge.

It doesn’t want to scan. It doesn’t want to scan his face.

They say the app has glitches, and some even claim the facial-recognition feature malfunctions for those with darker skin.

I get up to the option to scan my face, but it asks to get closer and closer, but it doesn’t do anything. And that’s the problem, that it takes a long time to load and that’s where it fails. So we try it again.

John: Yeah, pretty bad. At one shelter in Reynosa, they even had to install bright construction lights for people with darker skin to shine on their faces so the app would recognize them. And I’ve got to say, given the history of everything that’s happened in this country ever, it’s hard to think of anything more on-brand than a U.S. immigration app that scans your face and says “not white enough.”
And none of this is even getting into some of the other issues with the app, like that it’s told migrants to report to border stations 1,500 miles away, and has made it very difficult for families to get appointments together. And for anyone considering trying to circumvent the process by crossing the border between ports of entry to request asylum—something that, again, is completely legal—under Biden’s proposal you would be “presumed ineligible for asylum,” unless you’ve already applied for it, and been denied, in any country that you’ve already passed through. And as many have pointed out, this is eerily similar to a Trump era policy that made migrants ineligible for asylum if they passed through a third country en route to the U.S. and didn’t seek asylum there first. That forced people into dangerous situations, and was completely antithetical to the basic tenets of U.S. asylum policy. And that is something Biden himself definitely used to understand, given, remember, he’s the guy who said this.

Can’t even seek asylum on American soil? When did that happen?

John: Oh I can answer that for you, Joe! Now! It’s in a rule you just proposed! And I know there are a lot of things we’d like to forget from 2020, like the word cuomosexual, or how everything was cake for a while, or how gonzo my hair got, I look like I legally have to tell every one I just moved into the neighborhood. But your outrage of the treatment of asylum seekers shouldn’t be something you’re allowed to just forget. So if and when Title 42 expires next month, it seems we’re not going back to the way things were before Trump. With Biden’s new proposal, we’re just entering a different phase of an immigration dystopia, particularly for asylum seekers. And a lot of people are unhappy with it. The U.N. High Commissioner for refugees has said it’s “inconsistent with the foundational principles of international refugee law” and recommended that the government refrain from adopting it.
Look, it is pretty obvious Title 42 was never a functional or compassionate model of immigration policy. But neither is funneling migrants through an app whose boner icon actually makes sense now, given just how thoroughly it fucks people.
So what can we do? Well, restoring the right to asylum would roll back at least some of the harm that’s been done here. But that is just the start. We also have to scale up capacity of our entire immigration system, including our immigration courts, which, as we’ve talked about on the show before, are massively overloaded. They’re currently estimated to have a backlog of over 2 million cases. And beyond that, it is critical that we also expand other legal, non-asylum pathways into this country. Basically, we badly need actual immigration reform, which means congressional action. But that hasn’t happened in decades. And until it does, our immigration system will remain fundamentally broken. But that’s no excuse for making things even worse with bad policy and shitty apps. And I know this can be hard to hear for some democrats, who are reluctant to hear any criticism of Biden. They’ll point out that Trump was absolutely worse on immigration, which he was. But that’s too low a bar. Biden should, at the very least, be held accountable for the promises he made. But the problem is, when it comes to asylum seekers in particular, you’re talking about a group of people for whom those promises are among the easiest to break. And the fact is, migrants are going to keep seeking asylum in this country, as they have every legal right to do. And we need to make a choice in whether we’re comfortable to continue leaving so many of them in squalor and danger at the border, or whether we’re willing to finally fulfill our nation’s promise of offering them a safer, more hopeful life in a free country complete with the single horniest pile o’ gators in the entire world. And now this.

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Announcer: And now, wait, did Tucker Carlson know this was coming?

People getting fired and drove out of society forcing the wrong thing. Even accidentally. So pay attention.

Let me just be totally clear, I’m never going to call for anybody’s firing for saying something stupid on television as someone who said something stupid on television. Other people might disagree with you and that’s okay. That doesn’t make other view evil or should be fired from your job.

I’d be happy to live in a world where nobody got fired for saying something stupid.

Why are so many people being fired right now? You can be fired from your job if you disobey. Do you ever say anything you think at work and you can be fired. You can be fired. Most of us don’t have job security, I’ve been fired. Perhaps I’ll be fired again.

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[Cheers and applause]

[cheers and applause]

John: Moving on. Before we go tonight, a quick update. You may remember last month, we introduced you to Radiant Plumbing and Air Conditioning, a Texas company started by a married couple who produce elaborate movie-themed ads, from a toilet-themed Avengers parody, to a toilet themed Terminator one, to even taking on “Dune”.

The people ask us to bring peace to the city of Austin. House radiant accepts! I know you. There’s something awakening in your mind.

♪ ♪

John: You know, when Frank Herbert wrote “dune,” I doubt he realized that the quintessential version of his story would be made not by Jodorowsky, not by David Lynch, not by Denis Villeneuve, but by a gaggle of Texas toilet specialists with an after effects login. We loved their ingenuity so much, we issued them a challenge, saying, if they agreed to make their next commercial based on the mystery movie in that envelope, we’d debut it on this show, and give $10,000 to the Central Texas Food Bank. And I’m happy to say they took us up on that offer. And look, we were never going to fuck them over with the movie choice, we were never going to fuck them over by giving them a movie like “Schindler’s List” or “Tar.” But we wanted to challenge them. So the film we picked was “Magnolia.” That’s right, we asked them to turn P.T. Anderson’s sprawling, three-hour epic into a commercial for a toilet-repair business. Which is easier said than done. “Magnolia” is a movie with a shit-ton of main characters, ranging from a deranged motivational speaker to a stuck on a quiz show to a woman so hyped out on cocaine she might explode to the cop who comes to her door and maybe falls in love with her. It also features not one, but two father figures dying of cancer, and catchy lines of dialogue like this.

I have cancer and I’m dying very soon. It’s metastasized in my bones.

John: Look, I’m not saying that this film was easy for them to turn into a toilet parody. I’m not suggesting that. But we were confident they could do it. Also, visually, Magnolia gives them something to work with. It has a black-and-white prologue, a literal rainstorm of frogs, and a moment where every character sings the same Aimee Mann song.

♪ It’s not going to stop ♪
♪ ’til you wise up ♪

John: I’m telling you, this movie is great. It’s is fantastically bonkers. So we were excited to see which parts of it they chose to parody and surprisingly, it turned out: kind of all of them. So we’re thrilled to share what Radiant did with you tonight. And spoiler alert, they really outdid themselves with the title alone.

The year was 1999. A typical story, a normal couple and a normal business. What they built turned out to be anything but normal. ♪ ♪ The question is, if you have problems with your toilet– the answer is, just call radiant. [Knocking] I’ll be right there! Oh, it’s super loud! I’m here to help. Sometimes my plumbing is broken and I don’t know what to do. Problems with your plumbing? [Ding] Just call radiant! Tell him I’m okay. Everything’s going to be okay. How dare you judge me? You’re a terrible water heater! Cold showers my whole life! There’s problems with your water heater? [Ding] just call radiant! I want to be cool, but I’m so darn hot! [Clanking of falling toilets] this darn ac! If I were smart, I could call Radiant! Toilets are falling from the sky! [Barking] ♪ ♪ there you have it. There was the story of Radiant plumbing and air conditioning. Could it actually all have been a coincidence? All this house knows for sure is that if you need help with your plumbing, air conditioning, or drains, just call Radiant.

♪ The answer to it all ♪
♪ is simply to just call ♪
♪ Radiant ♪ ♪ ♪

[cheers and applause]

John: Excellent. Just excellent. But here’s the thing, just like Magnolia itself, that ad’s a piece of art that requires multiple viewings to truly appreciate. Because the level of detail here is complete madness. There are multiple scenes that are shot-for-shot matches for the original movie, even down to this zoom in on a piece of art in “magnolia,” which they cleverly matched with this one.
Also, in the original movie, a falling frog interrupts a suicide attempt, and in their version, a toilet’s suicide by drill is thwarted by a tiny falling toilet. That suicidal toilet, by the way, bears the words, “I have corrosion, it is in my porcelain, only have a couple of months,” while the other dying father figure is represented by this water heater wearing a hospital gown which bears the words, “I have corrosion too,” sad face. Every detail is deliberate, even the thermostat in this scene is set to 99 degrees, referencing both the year the original film was released and the year that Radiant was founded. There are more easter eggs in this ad than in a 10-episode marvel tv show. At one point in the original movie, this character says to this character that he will “dropkick the dogs if they get near me,” and if you watch very carefully when their characters meet in the Radiant ad, you’ll notice this. [Slo-mo bark]

John: Come on! Come on! What else could you possibly want? Not only did they go above and beyond, they’re even matching our donation with one to the San Antonio Food Bank. Radiant plumbing, you have delivered. Thank you so much. Honestly, I still don’t know if you’re any good at plumbing, and if it turns out you’re terrible at it, that would actually make all this ten times funnier. But one thing is for sure, when it comes to toilet-based cinema, you are unparalleled. And I cannot wait to see what you do next, because remember: if you can dream it, you can toilet.



That’s our show. Thank you so much for watching. Good night!

[Cheers and applause]

♪ ♪



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