Inflation: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver | Transcript

John Oliver discusses what causes inflation, what we’ve done about the current round of it, and, of course, makes the smartest investment of all time.
Inflation: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Season 9 Episode 17
Aired on July 24, 2022

Main segment: 2021–2022 inflation surge
Other segment: Updates on “Beach Dolls” web exclusive and Fallen Fruit statue in the City of Yarra

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[Cheers and applause]

John: Welcome, welcome, welcome to “Last Week Tonight.” I’m John Oliver. Thanks so much for joining us. We’re back, and no time to recap everything we’ve missed in the last month, including multiple world leaders losing their jobs — sometimes after mass protest, like in Sri Lanka, and sometimes after mass government resignations, like in the UK, where Boris Johnson finally stepped down in disgrace, prompting this magnificent man-on-the-street interview:

Excuse me, sir, sorry to disturb. I’m from “BBC Newsnight,” just wondering what you think of Boris Johnson resigning today.

I want him to go. He’s a pain in the ass. [Laughter]

John: Excellent. I mean, dirtbag English Stanley Tucci is perfect. From now on that man should be asked for comment on every major news event. In fact, put him on “Love Island” right now. I’m so fucking serious about this. [Applause] A new bombshell has entered the villa. [Laughter] Meanwhile, here in the U.S., the January 6th committee hearings have been continuing, with the latest taking place on Thursday, featuring some interesting footage of Josh Hawley, who you may remember riled up the crowd earlier in the day with a fist of solidarity, but who we now know was seen running for safety after they stormed the Capitol. [Laughter] That is painfully embarrassing. That is the gait of a man who’s either just gassed up an insurrection that’s now bearing down on top of him, or just drank a large iced coffee 45 minutes ago. Either way, those legs scream “I’ve made a huge mistake.” [Laughter] But maybe the best response to that clip came from former DC police officer Michael Fanone, who was injured in the riot, and offered this commentary outside the hearing.

The first thoughts that popped into my mind was, Josh Hawley is a [bleep]. And he ran like a [bleep].

John: Now, I wouldn’t personally say that. I’d say Josh Hawley is a bitch who ran like a chihuahua desperately trying to keep up with its owner on a casual walk. But you know, to each their own. I’m sure there’ll be more to say about this when the hearings resume in September, but for now, we’re going to dive straight in with our main story this week, as it concerns a topic that’s been at the forefront of the news over the past year.

Tonight, inflation nation. Inflation’s grip on American consumers not letting up.

It’s called lunch-flation.



Meat-flation is rocking the nation.

John: Okay, first: a big, enthusiastic “no” to the word “meat-flation,” which sounds less like an economic phenomenon and more like a slang term for a boner. [Laughter] It’s honestly hard to think of a more unpleasant portmanteau than meatflation, aside from “snart,” which combines the words “sneeze” and “fart.” Or “ronzo,” which would obviously be the celebrity couple name if Ron Howard ever fucked Gonzo the Muppet. As you undoubtedly know, the U.S. is experiencing the highest inflation of the past 40 years. And despite initial hopes it’d be temporary, prices are still going up. Over the past year, food is up 10.4%, and gasoline is up 59.9%. So, to be honest, it’s probably a good idea to start making your gasoline at home in the morning instead of getting an expensive cup of it on your way to work. And in some cases, companies have tried to hide inflation by keeping their prices the same, but reducing the size of their products. It’s called “shrink-flation,” and news outlets love to cover this, usually with the help of what seems to be the one go-to expert on the topic.

There’s almost no category of product except eggs, maybe, that hasn’t been downsized over the past years.

Consumer advocate is publisher of

Crest 3-d white went from 4.1 ounces to 3.8 ounces. Apple cinnamon Cheerios went from 20.1 ounces to 19 ounces. It’s still called family size. The family must’ve gotten smaller.

Here you’ve got two bottles of Gatorade and these have just changed in the past few months. This one is the old 32-ounce one. This one is four ounces less. They said they made it easier to grip, you know. Give me a break. [Laughter]

John: Yeah, you tell ’em, ed! I love everything about that man, from his website, — which is somehow not an online literary journal for writers who happen to be rodents — to his electrifying delivery of the word “eggs,” to his utter refusal to tolerate even the slightest amount of bullshit from Gatorade. [Laughter] But whether it’s inflation, shrink-flation or meat-flation, rising prices are clearly a problem. Although hourly earnings were up 5.1% over the past year, overall wages fell by 3.6% when adjusted for inflation. And for those on fixed incomes or tight budgets, like students and retirees, inflation is especially difficult to handle, and can amount to a life overhaul.

Patti Byther just un-retired and got ready for her new part-time job.

I thought I was done. I had worked it all out financially that, you know, I could afford it.

With prices soaring, her retirement lasted 10 months.

These are my fuel bills.

In 13 months, it went up $150.

Correct. My safety net is just gone.

When do you see yourself retiring for real?

I don’t really see a time when I’ll be able to retire again, or entirely again, which is sort of annoying and sad.

John: That is putting it lightly. It must be so frustrating to retire, think you’re done, and then have to go back to work. That’s the absolute worst case scenario of retirement — other than, of course, moving to Florida. [Laughter] So given that it’s hurting so many people right now, tonight, let’s examine inflation: what caused it, what we’ve done to address it so far, and what could happen next. And let’s start with how exactly we got here. Because you’ve probably heard a lot of explanations flying around.

This is biden-flation, a 39-year high created by Joe Biden.

Make no mistake. Inflation is largely the fault of Putin.

The supply chain is the catalyst at the end of the day.

Inflation is not caused by the build back better or the bipartisan bill. It’s caused by corporate greed.

John: Yeah, there’s been a flurry of finger-pointing. With many tending to place the blame on whatever they were already mad at, with some democrats blaming corporate greed, republicans blaming Joe Biden, Biden blaming Putin, and your dog presumably blaming the vacuum cleaner. [Laughter] And here’s the interesting thing: aside from the dog, they’re probably all at least a little bit right, because the truth is: there is no one cause of inflation. At the best of times it involves a multitude of factors, and the situation we’re in right now has been an unprecedented perfect storm. And to understand that storm, it might help to pause for a moment to talk about the mechanics of inflation. Very basically, it happens whenever there’s too much demand for too little supply. If people have lots of money to spend, they usually want to buy more stuff. But if there’s not enough stuff to go around, then the price of that stuff goes up. I’ll give you an example: let’s say that every single person in America suddenly wins the lottery, and everyone now has $40 million to spend. What are they going to do? Well, I’d assume they’d do what I would, which is immediately buy this $1,500 emerald patina fountain statue of a frog spreading its unnaturally long legs in a manner that seems offensive, but I’m not exactly sure to who. [Laughter] By the way, the frog comes in two sizes, large and giant. [Laughter] Now, obviously, if you win the lottery, you’re springing for the giant one. But here’s the problem: there are currently only three of them left in stock. So the statues are likely to get more expensive, because everyone suddenly wants one, as they all have more money to spend, but there are only three left. Basically, high demand, not enough supply, and that’s how we get frog-flation. So, too much money chasing a limited supply of goods can lead to inflation. And some on the right have seized on the “too much money” part of that idea to suggest that inflation is really just down to one thing:

When you put $6 trillion of fiscal stimulus into the economy as president Biden and democrats did last year, you’re going to end up with big time inflation.

The march stimulus package literally manufactured inflation.

This inflation is caused by democrat policies. It didn’t just happen. This is the democrat tax on the middle class.

John: Wow. That’s some pretty heavy fire. Calling something a “tax on the middle class” is one of the best ways to make it look bad, just after calling it “a close associate of Prince Andrew.” [Laughter] Blaming Biden’s stimulus package has become a common refrain on the right when discussing inflation. And the reality is, there is a kernel of truth to it: thanks to the pandemic-era stimulus bills, people did have more cash on hand. But that is not the only reason. As strange as it sounds, many people saved money during the early days of the pandemic, simply because we were all stuck at home. By one estimate, households actually accumulated $2.5 trillion in excess savings during the pandemic. And to the extent people were spending money, it mostly wasn’t on services like flights or hotels or restaurants. Instead, it went to goods like furniture, appliances, or — I don’t know — some steamy watercolor rat erotica. [Laughter] I’m just describing what most people did in 2020. And what’s more, the notion that our economy would be fine if not for Biden’s stimulus completely ignores what it would’ve looked like without it. Because it not only protected low income workers, who were in real trouble, it also helped us avoided a Covid-induced financial crisis. And while, with hindsight, most economists would say that we could have made it more targeted and precise so that we didn’t increase the money supply any more than we absolutely had to, it is very important to note that, according to one estimate, without the American rescue plan, the economy would have come close to suffering a double-digit recession in the spring of 2021. So two things are likely true here: the government stimulus did contribute to inflation, but it was also a necessary intervention. And the much bigger point is, inflation clearly isn’t just about the stimulus at all. After all, it’s not just a problem here in the U.S. Britain and Germany have seen inflation rates hit four-decade highs, and in seven eastern European nations, it’s now expected to surge past double digits. And in japan, it’s had particularly dramatic consequences.

We’re at an aquarium in Hakone. The effects of inflation can be felt here, too.

With the rising price of feed, they’ve chosen to use the cheaper mackerel.

How are the penguins reacting to the new feed? [Laughter]

She tries to coax it to eat.

The penguin doesn’t like it.

John: No, it does not. And I do not blame it. I love absolutely everything about that. My new favorite genre of news segment is now “footage of what appears to be a large, flightless bird being a massive bitch.” Which, now that I say it out loud, would be a pretty accurate title for this show. [Laughter] But also, remember: demand is only one side of this equation. The other side is supply. And to quote my therapist, “let’s come back to that frog spreading its legs statue.” [Laughter] Because in that scenario where everyone won the lottery, if there happened to be enough frog statues for everyone to buy, then there wouldn’t be any imbalance between supply and demand. And prices would be stable. But remember, there are only three giant statues left in stock. And if for whatever reason, they can’t make any more, the price of the remaining statues will then go up. Especially because there aren’t actually three of them left anymore. Because I have one, and it’s right over here! [Cheers and applause] Look at it! Look at my beautiful frog statue! And crucially, what that means is, there are now only two of the frog statues left. Except, to be honest, there aren’t two, because I have another one as well, and it’s right over there! [Cheers and applause] Look at my second frog statue! What an absolutely perfect pair! And what that means is that the last remaining frog statue is gonna be worth an absolute fortune, which to be honest, is very good news for me, because I did get that one as well. Here it is! [Applause] I’m rich! I’ve got all the frogs! I’ve cornered the frog statue market! I’m good at business! But look, the larger macroeconomic point I’m making is, demand is certainly a factor, but a smaller supply also leads to inflation. And generally speaking, we’ve had diminished and disrupted supplies of a lot of consumer goods, primarily because, thanks to Covid, factories overseas have been shut or have slowed down considerably. Take, for instance, bicycles. There’s been a massive bike shortage over the last couple of years thanks in large part to lockdowns and slowdowns disrupting bike production in china, where roughly 90% of all bikes sold in the U.S. are produced. Meanwhile, demand for bikes soared as shoppers tried to stay active during lockdowns. Meaning that just a few months into the pandemic, we were already seeing stories like this.

Bike shops across the country now seeing skyrocketing demand and supplies dwindling. In Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This is actually the only one we have right at the moment.

And in New York City.

Have you ever seen a bike shortage like this before?

No, never.

I’m selling way more pink and purple to guys because they are just like, whatever, doesn’t matter what color it is. It is what it is, it’s a bike.

John: Yeah, the bike shortage even broke down gender stereotypes! [Applause] But interestingly, while pink and purple bikes attracted a new male demographic, penny farthing bikes maintained their traditional customer base: fancy mustachioed perverts. [Laughter] All of which helps explain why, last year, the average retail price of bike products was up 43% compared to 2019. Which means essentially one thing: if you’re the sort of person who stayed active and exercised during lockdown, inflation is your fault, and you’re a terrible person. [Laughter] The point is, inflation truly was a perfect storm going into the year, and it seems like everything that’s happened since has only made it worse. When Biden said “inflation is largely the fault of Putin,” that is clearly not true. Inflation was happening before Putin even invaded Ukraine, so that’s just not how time works. What is true, though, is that Putin definitely exacerbated the problem. The invasion of Ukraine greatly impacted food and fuel prices, as the world cut off its oil purchases from Russia, driving gas prices — which were already rising — up to outrageous levels, perhaps best summed up by this guy:

Bruh, I just got a brand-new — I just got a new car. My first car. Now I see what you motherfuckers are talking about with these gas prices. [Laughter] My shit was on empty. I put 20 bucks in the fucking — in the fucking tank. Look at this shit! [Laughter] What the fuck? This is what 20 fucking dollars gets me? Are you fucking kidding me? [Laughter] [applause]

John: Yeah, if I had to bet, I’d say 80% of a gas station employee’s job right now is to talk people down from exactly this situation. The other 20% is, as always, tracking down some of the blue-est drinks you’ve ever seen. Is it a good idea to sell those in the same store where you sell antifreeze? Not for me to say. [Laughter] So Putin invading Ukraine didn’t start this inflationary cycle, but it is making it worse. And the same can be said of corporate greed. It is absolutely true that some companies are taking advantage of this environment to drive up prices, and getting record profits in return. And that is infuriating. But most economists will tell you that’s not what caused inflation in the first place. After all, it’s not like corporations only just got greedy in the last two years. [Laughter] Companies will shamelessly profiteer the same way that a dog will make an absolute meal out of its own ball sack: if left to its own devices, that’s unfortunately just what it’s going to do. So, to recap: rising prices are due to a ton of factors: a pandemic, a stimulus, changed spending patterns, supply chain issues, the war in Ukraine, to name just a few. And anyone loudly saying that one thing is the cause of inflation is either lying or has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. And the fact is, whichever combination of things got us into this mess, the entity many are looking to to get us out of it is the federal reserve. One of its key duties is to keep an eye out for things that can destabilize the economy, like inflation, and control it by raising and lowering interest rates. Very basically, the fed can increase how much it costs for banks to borrow money, a cost they then pass along to businesses and consumers, through higher rates on things like mortgages and credit cards. And the higher the interest rates, the less inclined people and businesses will be to borrow, and the more inclined they’ll be to save. Essentially, the fed can indirectly influence how much people are spending. So when it comes to the demand side of the economy, they have some real power here. And the fact is, in this current crisis, it did arguably take too long for the fed to raise interest rates. That’s something its chairman, Jerome Powell, basically admitted at a congressional hearing in march. Just listen to him explain that the fed initially saw early signs of inflation as being due to a temporary supply shock that would simply resolve itself.

What the textbook says is the shock’s going to come and it’s going to go, and you shouldn’t react to it. Hindsight says we should have moved earlier and that turned out to be wrong. Not maybe conceptually wrong, but it’s just taking so much longer for the supply side to heal than we thought.

John: Yeah, he’s right. The standard textbook of economics says that if there’s a supply shock, you let it resolve itself organically. Unfortunately — and in fairness to the fed — the pandemic was totally unprecedented, so the standard textbook just didn’t apply. In fact, the only textbook applicable to this situation was, “oh fuck fuck fuck the whole world shut down what do we do oh god oh fuck fuck fuck!” [Laughter] And it’s not like the fed was alone in calling it wrong. Most economists thought inflation would go away on its own. And some of the loudest voices on wall street were arguing against the fed raising interest rates, because they, too, thought inflation would be transitory. For instance, here is Jim Cramer — the answer to the question, “what if a garbage can full of cocaine and business school pamphlets wished to be a real boy?” — Making that very argument in November of last year.

The bottom line, I don’t think Powell needs to slam the brakes on the economy. Despite what you hear from the “inflationistas” in the media, the weight of the evidence is finally going Powell’s way, team transitory is going to win! I say stop freaking about inflation!

John: Okay. Setting aside the fact that he’s speaking with an intensity level best described as “Patti Lupone admonishing a rude audience member,” it’s pretty clear that this clip, much like Jim Cramer himself, has not aged very well. Because here he was just six months later doing a full 180 with a very different tone.

I think that Powell may not understand. We got to break this, we’ve got to break it now, because this was the week we realized that it is just inflamed, and it is not going away. And I was — I was just kind of — just, I — I — look, I was shocked. [Laughter] I just didn’t know that it was as bad as it is. It’s in every aisle. The inflation’s in every aisle.

John: Wow, that was a pretty dramatic turnaround. He went from loudly unconcerned about rising prices to full-blown “inflationista” in a matter of months. And quick question: what exactly is going on with this expression right here? [Laughter] That is not the face you make when you’re concerned about inflation. That’s the face you make when you’re watching a giraffe give birth. The fact is, a lot of smart people, and Jim Cramer, read the situation wrong. And there isn’t really a road map for what to do next. As one “wall street journal” columnist has said, “economic models that worked for decades broke down during the pandemic, and alternatives have yet to emerge.” Now, one thing that would really help is if we knew the extent to which this is a supply or a demand problem. If it’s more about “too much money” or “not enough stuff.” Because if it is too much money, the fed can impact that pretty easily. What they’d want to do is raise interest rates significantly enough to curb spending and slow growth, but not so aggressively that it would then trigger a painful recession. But if it’s about “not enough stuff” instead — if the major issues are things like supply chain disruptions — the effect the fed can have is drastically reduced. Because the fed can’t stop the war in Ukraine, or open factories in china that are closed due to Covid. I suppose Jerome Powell could lead an army of economists into Luhansk, but I’m not sure anyone wants to see that, and historically, that hasn’t been the fed’s role. [Laughter] So the question of whether inflation is caused more by supply or demand basically determines how much influence the fed has to improve things. Unfortunately, even economists don’t really agree on which is the bigger driver. Meaning the truth is, inflation may not be fully within our control right now. Which isn’t to say that Biden hasn’t been out there promising to combat it and showing empathy for Americans who are struggling, sometimes in the weirdest way possible.

I want every American to know that I’m taking inflation very seriously, and it’s my top domestic priority. I know you got to be frustrated. I know. I can taste it. [Laughter]

John: No! No, no, no, no, no! Never say that again! That may have been the single grossest thing I’ve ever heard come out of Joe Biden’s mouth. And that’s saying a lot, because I’ve heard the stuff he used to say in the ’70s. But to be fair, I get why Biden’s taking this approach. Americans view inflation as the top problem facing the U.S. ahead of the midterm elections, ahead of every other calamity facing the country, including Ezra Miller. [Laughter] And there is an argument for trying to raise public confidence. Once an inflationary cycle starts, simply the expectation of it can keep inflation going. For instance, as the cost of living rises, workers might demand higher wages to cover that, which in turn, raises the cost of labor, leading businesses to charge higher prices, leading to still more inflation. It’s basically a vicious cycle. That is why the worse our inflation expectations are, the worse it can get. And that may help explain why the fed — albeit late — is now taking some big steps. It recently enacted the biggest increase to interest rates since 1994. And it’s all but certain that it will raise them again next week. Meanwhile, Jerome Powell has been trying to reassure people that the fed has things under control. Although he’s also notably gone from talking about trying to engineer a “soft landing” for the economy, to something slightly different.

So, I would say there’s a — there’s a, you know — there are a number of plausible paths to having a soft, or as I’ve said, soft-ish landing.

John: Oh! So we’re aiming for a “soft-ish” landing now, are we? The thing is, “ish” isn’t exactly the most reassuring suffix to hear when you’re discussing something so serious. There is a huge difference between a surgeon telling you, “the surgery went well” and “it went well…ish.” [Laughter] Look, I don’t know where things are going to go, exactly. I’m not a monetary policy wonk, even though my clothing, glasses, haircut, and general vibe would strongly beg to differ. [Laughter] Although for what it’s worth, there have been some small encouraging developments recently. Among other things, gas prices have been dropping, and long-term inflation expectations recently ticked down after the fed’s intervention. Most economists now expect this wave of inflation to pass in a year or 18 months, although that’s by no means certain, and importantly: that’s an incredibly long time for those suffering the most. Because for all our discussion of supply and demand curves, it’s important to remember that inflation’s effects are anything but abstract for those it’s hitting the hardest, like this woman, describing shopping with her kids.

They see it, you know, like when I’m in line and I’m like, you know, calculating in my head and looking at my groceries, right. Like, literally, I have my calculator out, like, doing the tax and, like, what is this going to come to? Or I’m putting things back as we get closer in line, you know. And my oldest daughter is, like, looking at me and then, like, she’s putting something back. It just, you know, breaks your heart a little bit.

John: Yeah. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about putting food back on the shelves because you can’t afford it. Kids should do what they’re meant to at the grocery store: go over to the big bin of rubber balls that are inexplicably sold there and cause absolute mayhem. [Laughter] So the next year is likely to be very hard for a lot of people, which is why what we should definitely be doing is helping them. One of the best ways to help low income families would be to pass a refundable child tax credit for those who need it. And I know that may be hard in an atmosphere where government spending is being blamed for fueling inflation. But it could be narrowly targeted, while also fully offset, with higher taxes on higher earners. We could also expand rental assistance, something economists say would have a minimal impact on driving inflation further up, while also keeping people in their homes. Look, things are obviously pretty bad right now. Families are struggling, penguins are pissed, and Jim Cramer looks like he just shit himself. [Laughter] And there is still a lot of uncertainty here. But there are also two things we know for sure: one, it’s going to take a difficult combination of monetary policy, supply chain recovery, and time to bring supply and demand back into alignment. And two, that if everyone does win the lottery in the future, and suddenly wants frog statues, I just made the smartest investment of all time! [Cheers and applause] I’m the Warren Buffett of frogs! And now, this.

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Announcer: And now local news reacts to the consequences of global warming exactly how expected.

As hip-hop sensation nelly once said, it’s hot, so hot in here. Just how hot is it, Elizabeth?

It so hard in here, how hot is it?

It so hot I’d brought a loaf of bread and it was toast.

It so hard I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walking.

It is so hot I saw a devil by the ac.

How hot is it?

I almost called my ex-girlfriend just so I could be around something shady.

It is so hot I think I saw a chicken light and omelette.

Adam and eve are going to trade their fig leaves for ice cubes.

London is so hot —

How hot is it?

They are canceling flights and they’re doing better than Spain, where it was 90 yesterday. Humidity around 100%. ♪ ♪ [Applause]

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John: Moving on. Before we go, a quick update on something we mentioned during the break. Specifically, dolls. The single weirdest thing to bring to a job interview. “I went to UNC, but Liliana went to Tulane.” [Laughter] Over the July 4th weekend we released a web piece about the fact dolls have been washing up on a particular stretch of beach in Texas. And each one is a legitimate horror show — from “green pirate baby,” to “nightmare ghoul baby,” to “barnacle baby” one, two, and three. Honestly, I now see these demons everywhere. In the mirror? Suddenly there’s a doll. In the stunning, humbling images from the James Webb space telescope? Another doll. Look, I’m 45-years-old. I’ve encountered a wide breadth of emotions. But not until I saw these things did I experience the feeling of being hunted. And I will say: it seems like the local news in Texas appreciated us giving their plight some attention.

This is a little creepy. It’s happening along the beaches in south Texas. And while, you know, anything can wash up on shore, these dolls are really turning heads. Recently, the trend caught the eye of HBO’s John Oliver who offered up his own solution for what he calls “the demon dolls.” [Laughter]

Burn them! Burn them now!

John: Yeah. I said that. And you know what? I stand by that sentiment. Although our idea wasn’t just that the dolls should be burned. It’s that the coastal reserve that keeps finding them should sell them to us, and allow us to find an appropriate way to dispose of them. So we offered $10,000 to their turtle hospital if they sent as every remaining plastic beast they had. And apparently they got the message.

He said that they were gonna donate, you know, if I sent him all the dolls that I have, they were gonna donate $10,000, and then they were gonna destroy all the dolls. [Laughs] And I thought, that sounds really good to me, ’cause, you know, the Amos Rehabilitation Keep that rehabs the sea turtles, they’re pretty much run on donations from the community, so $10,000 can go a long way and save hundreds of sea turtles, so I’m all about that.

John: Oh, yeah, yeah, me too. I like sea turtles. I think they’re fun, round little guys. But was that my main objective? No, of course fucking not. This was mainly about saving the planet from the heinous scourge of these plastic beach demons. Anyway, we began a correspondence with that man, including, at one point, him sending us this photo of the available dolls. Which is really bad. A really bad way to do things. A bucket is the single worst place to keep them, other than at a hospital in bassinets right next to real babies. [Laughter] But we kept up our end of the deal. We sent the turtle rehab the money, and in return, they sent us the dolls. Now, we were actually on break when that happened, so one of our staff members had them shipped directly to her home, meaning she had in the place where she lives this box. And you know what? I take it back. The bucket was fine. This box is a much worse place to keep them. But the fact is: we are now in possession of this large bucket full of my worst nightmares. [Applause] This may be the single creepiest thing that’s ever been inside of this building, which is saying something because Charlie Rose used to work down the hall. [Laughter] But before we get into what we’re going to do with them, we actually have a second quick update for you. Because you may remember we have another outstanding offer on the table. Back in June, we discussed this giant Australian banana, which was installed in the city of Yarra, in Melbourne, as part of a city council project to slow down traffic. But it was sadly removed after someone vandalized it with a saw. Now, there was some controversy over the banana, especially because Yarra apparently spent $22,000 on it. So we offered to buy it for $10, plus a $10,000 donation to their local food bank, and a $5,000 donation to the John Oliver koala chlamydia ward. [Laughter] But that’s not all. We also offered our “giant alligator giving the finger” statue as a replacement for them. It was a pretty good deal. And you should know we actually just heard back from Yarra.

Hi, John, I’m Sophie Way, the mayor of the city of Yarra, in Melbourne. We were thrilled to receive your offer to provide a home for our beloved yet beleaguered banana statue. After much consideration however, we must decline your offer. Public art is an investment in local artists, the community, and the vibrancy of our streets, so it shouldn’t be privatized and kept in an office.

John: Okay, first, I wouldn’t call this “public art” so much as I’d call it “the final boss in donkey kong,” but agree to disagree there. [Laughter] But second, that was obviously disappointing for me to hear. Although she did have a followup suggestion.

We would love to offer your belligerent alligator a new home here in Melbourne. We know you’ll be disappointed about the banana. Who wouldn’t be? So as compensation, we will name our polystyrene recycling machine after you. [Laughter] It turns trash into treasure, makes a lot of noise, and nerds love it. So it seems fitting. We hope our counteroffer is a-peeling.

John: Okay, first: solid burn. Don’t particularly care for the pun. And third, now we’re talking! Because before watching that video, I didn’t realize I wanted my name attached to a machine that vigorously churns out a substance that looks like someone stuffed snoopy through a sausage maker. But it turns out, I want it very badly. In fact, I now have a counter to your counteroffer. Because, to be clear, I am not offering you my alligator statue anymore. That went off the table as soon as you denied me the banana. No banana, no alligator. [Laughter] But I am still willing to send $10,000 to your food bank and $5,000 to the koala chlamydia ward if you name that recycling machine after me and — and this is non-negotiable — you take this bucket of hellish dolls and run them through your machine to destroy them forever. [Cheers and applause] I can think of no better way to rid the world of this menace. And if you are sad you’re not getting the alligator, don’t worry, I also have a consolation prize. Because I’ll also throw in these three glorious frog statues, which will only appreciate in value. You have exactly one week to get back to us. I await your response with interest, Yarra!

That’s our show, thank you so much for watching, we’ll see you next week, goodnight!


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♪ ♪

[frog croaking]


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