Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 7, Episode 12 - Coronavirus VIII - full transcript

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Hi there!
And welcome to the show.

Still taking place
in this weird blank void.

Weird for you, not for me.

Speedreading sad facts
alone to absolute silence is, perhaps,

the only time I've ever
felt truly comfortable.

It's been another long,
strange week

with the world struggling to deal
with the coronavirus.

Some have been chafing
at stay-at-home orders

and not just here,
but also abroad.

Take a look at these pictures
from Peru.

Now, these are street performers
in the south of the country

who were arrested
for flouting lockdown rules.

More than 20 of them in all. They were
taken to a local police station

after being caught
holding a Mother's Day parade.

Okay, first: what the fuck
is Mother's Day like in Peru

and why isn't it like that here?

you have got to admire the people

who kept the heads of their costumes
on while being arrested.

That's some serious commitment
to staying in character!

Whoever's inside of that costume

is truly the Daniel Day-Lewis
of Peruvian Tweety Birds.

here in the United States,

this week saw Congress hear
testimony from Rick Bright,

ousted top vaccine official
turned whistleblower,

who described missed opportunities,
such as this moment in January,

when a manufacturer
of PPE tried to sound an alarm.

I'll never forget the emails
I received from Mike Bowen

indicating that our mask supplier,
N95 respirator supplier,

was completely decimated.

And he said: "We're in deep shit.
The world is. And we need to act."

Yeah. It seems that's what
congressional testimony is now,

just career public health officials
saying, on the record:

"Shit's fucked, motherfuckers!"

It feels like, as time goes on,
we're about to find out

more clear warning signs that
the Trump administration ignored.

I'm assuming we'll learn that Trump
was delivered a report in January

titled "What to Expect When
You're Expecting the Coronavirus"

"to Kill 80 000 Americans
in Four Months."

While you would expect the president
to be laser-focused on this pandemic

and nothing else,
he took a break on Friday

to unveil the new Space Force flag
and do a little bragging.

The president was touting
other potential advances

like a new high-speed missile
for Mr. Trump's pet project,

the Space Force.

I call it the super duper missile.
Space is going to be the future.

We're now the leader in space.

Yeah, that happened.

Donald Trump posed
with a gigantic Space Force flag

while standing
way too close to someone,

referred to
a "super duper missile"

and called the U.S.
"the leader in space".

He truly has the spirit, brain,
appetite, temper, patience

and wit of a child that you hate.

There's also been a major scandal
brewing in Washington,

surrounding North Carolina senator

and chair of the Senate Intelligence
Committee, Richard Burr.

It kicked up a notch on Wednesday
with a startling development.

Law enforcement officials say
the FBI served a search warrant

Wednesday night
at Senator Burr's home.

They say
it was part of an investigation

into stock sales
related to the coronavirus.

The officials say Burr handed over
a cell phone to the agents at his home.

It's true. The FBI seized
Burr's cell phone on suspicion

that he may've used non-public
information from coronavirus briefings

to dump shares ahead
of the market crash.

Which, among other things,
is a reminder that at any moment,

the FBI could barge into your house
and confiscate your phone.

If the photo
on your phone's home screen

is something
you don't want the FBI to see,

like, I don't know, a very tasteful
image of a hamster in a speedo,

you should change it immediately.

Now, there's nothing illegal about
that particular example, by the way.

That's just something
I randomly thought of.

On a completely unrelated note,
I have to do something real quick.

And bye-bye, buddy.
Good. Okay, back to Richard Burr.

The details here do not look
particularly good for him.

Before the market tumbled,

Burr and other members of the Senate
were told in a February briefing

about the potential impact
of the crisis to come.

A day after,
Burr sold up to $1.7 million in stock,

including shares
in the travel and hotel industry.

That is pretty damning.

The only way that could have been
any shadier

is if Burr then bought a ton of shares
in the actual coronavirus.

Burr staunchly maintains
that he did nothing wrong here,

basing his sales solely
on news reports at the time.

And you know what?

But there are things in Burr's past
that are inherently suspicious.

For one thing: there was
his position on the Stock Act,

which forbids members of Congress
from trading on nonpublic information

that they learn on the job.

Burr was one of only three senators
to vote against that legislation.

In terms of outright character flaws,

there's also the fact that apparently,
he never wears socks.

Which is not just completely

it seems like it's something
he's actively proud of.

What is your position on socks?

I'm not opposed. We've manufactured
a lot of socks in North Carolina.

I just choose not to wear 'em.

It's a southern thing,
it's a cultural thing.

What? Going foot-commando
is not a southern cultural thing.

Just because you choose to do
something and you're from the south,

does not mean
everyone there does it.

Not wearing socks
isn't a southern thing

any more than wearing socks
on your penis is a West Coast thing.

No, it's very particularly
a Red Hot Chili Peppers thing.

So, it seems Burr
has found himself in a situation

that's not unlike that
of the federal government.

He got information about
the coronavirus early,

there are lots of questions
about what he did with it,

and now he is,
if I may quote the testimony

of a very tired public health official,
"in deep shit".

And now this.

And Now:

Rachael Ray Is Doing Her Best With
Her New, One-Man Production Crew.

My husband, John Cusimano.
Wave, honey.

John is our cameraman and director.
It's gonna go straight to his head.

What's this thing

when you go to the Greek restaurant
and they set the cheese on fire?

Haloumi. Yeah.
Well, we're not doing that.

You could also
make it with flank steak.

Literally, she was pounding
out steak for, like, two hours.

- Why are you scaring people?
- It's nothing to be scared of.

- It's the beginning of the show...
- Sorry, everybody.

Don't be so impatient.

Wait, we gotta keep' em
back here in the frame.

Excuse me, Scorsese.

Here's our chicken.
Did you see that?

You missed the big reveal, John.

Worcestershire sauce is actually
made from oysters, right?

As advertised, John.

You gotta get out of my way, dude.
I can't reach any of my tools.

- What are you doing?
- I'm making a mess!

It's like a squirrel came in
to make this cocktail.

Don't burn your thumb this time.

Anyway. Moving along, you're
always full of happy memories.

Date night.
This is so fun, right?

it's supposed to look dirty?

Let me finish it, please.

This is why I try not to pick
a fight with Rachael.

Moving on. Our main story
concerns sports,

the thing O.J. Simpson
used to be famous for.

The coronavirus has taken its toll
on all manner of industries,

but the world of sports was
among those hit hardest, earliest

and perhaps most visibly.

Think back to the day
that you first realized

our lives were gonna
fundamentally change for a while.

For many,
it was when this happened.

Two days before he tested
positive for coronavirus,

Utah Jazz all-star Rudy Gobert

did this to reporters' microphones
in an interview.

And this morning, the NBA
suspending the rest of its season.

The unprecedented move
shocking everyone,

including Dallas Mavs
owner Mark Cuban.

Think about how astonishing something
has to be to shock Mark Cuban.

Keep in mind, he's one
of the sharks on "Shark Tank"!

He's been pitched businesses
like "Rent A Goat",

a service that rents out goats
to eat overgrown shrubs,

"Squirrel Boss," a bird feeder that
gives electric shocks to squirrels

and "Elephant Chat", a stuffed elephant
that you put in the room

to signal there's something
uncomfortable to talk about.

Mark Cuban has already seen

the most jawdropping, inconceivable
things this world has to offer.

And it wasn't just basketball
vanishing suddenly.

Since then, the NHL
has suspended its season,

Major League Baseball pushed back
its opening day to an unknown date,

international soccer leagues
suspended games

and the Olympics were
moved to next summer.

As shocking as these cancellations
seemed at the time,

the truth is,
there was really no choice.

Sporting events with large crowds
packed together

are the exact opposite
of social distancing

and they're a nightmare scenario
during a pandemic.

This Champions League match
in Milan in February

was later likened
to a "biological bomb"

after it was linked
to one of the deadliest outbreaks.

But though sports shutting down
was emphatically the right thing to do,

people have increasingly been
asking when they can return.

And few have asked louder
than this guy.

I hope football can start.

And I told them:
"I think you might be able to."

They may very well be able to.
Hope they can start

and I hope they can start
with people in the stands.

The fans want to be back, too.

They want to see basketball and
baseball and football and hockey.

They want to see their sports.
We have to get our sports back.

I'm tired of watching baseball games
that are 14 years old.

But I haven't actually had
too much time to watch.

I would say maybe I watch one batter
and then I get back to work.

Okay, but here's the thing:
we asked some experts about that,

it turns out that when the country's
in the middle of a pandemic

that's killing many thousands
of Americans every single week,

the correct number of batters from
2006 for the president to be watching

is actually fucking zero.

But look,
he's not entirely wrong there.

The lack of sports is an emotional blow
to a lot of people.

And it's not just emotional,
it's also financial.

By one estimate, the sudden
disappearance of sports will erase

at least $12 billion in revenues

and hundreds of thousands of jobs
in this country alone.

Those jobs aren't just the high-paid
athletes playing the games,

they include the many people who count
on sporting events for employment,

like these two Philadelphia
stadium workers.

Marvin Spratley made $14 an hour
as a part-time grill cook

for nearly two years at Sixers,
Flyers and Eagles games.

It's a lot of stress on me. I got
bills piling up, baby needs Pampers.

Aisha Johnson is a maintenance
worker at Phillies games.

I have food on the table now.
I'm making it right at this moment

but I don't know
what tomorrow may bring.

Yeah, that's really difficult.
And it's worth remembering that

although Philadelphia sports fans
are a horde of inhuman monsters

who deserve neither sympathy
nor understanding,

the people paid to tend
to those monsters

depend on their monster money.

Given that the absence of sport
has caused such pain,

we thought tonight we'd take a look
at what sports have become

in the age of coronavirus and what
a path back for them might look like.

The sports world has been doing some
great things during this pandemic.

Teams and athletes have been donating
and raising money for charity,

with some even selling branded face
masks for coronavirus-related causes.

Despite not being able to play,
teams have found ways

to stay engaged with their fans online,
while modeling social distancing.

The Pittsburgh Pirates Parrot posted
an at-home workout video,

the Chicago Blackhawks mascot,
Tommy Hawk, vacuumed his apartment

and Gritty once again blew them
all away without even trying.

I don't know
what's more amazing there,

Gritty's incredible
hand-eye coordination,

the fact he seems to live
in an entirely empty apartment,

or the discovery that his body
occasionally squeaks when it moves,

presumably because,
evolutionarily speaking,

Gritty's closest relative
is a used dog toy.

And it's not just mascots,

athletes have been showing
how they're trying to work from home,

which has not always been
easy for them.

Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo
told reporters last month

that he's been unable to practice,
he doesn't have a hoop at his house.

Others have had to get pretty creative
to continue their training:

an Olympic swimmer training
in a kiddie pool with a bungee cord,

an Olympic runner creating makeshift
treadmills in a bathtub with Palmolive,

an Olympic rock climber
using her home as a climbing gym,

or Branden Kline of the Orioles
squatting his dog,

who seems utterly delighted
by the situation.

But not every at-home
training session goes smoothly,

as Dodgers pitcher
Joe Kelly recently discovered.

Wondering how quarantine's going?
Joe is working on a change-up.


Honestly, if I was Joey Kelly's wife,
I'd never get that window fixed,

I'd make him explain what happened
every time someone came over.

"That window? Joe, do you
want to tell that story?"

I kind of forget some of the details,
like how many millions of dollars

you've been paid for your ability
to throw a baseball accurately,

how big the net was, and how
many feet you missed it by.

Go ahead and tell the story
while I pull up the video.

As for broadcasters
who are reliant on live events,

they are now
in a truly desperate situation.

While EPSN moved up their 10-part
Michael Jordan documentary,

they've otherwise
been strapped for content,

airing video game versions
of baseball and basketball,

with SportsCenter at one point
actually tweeting out this.

Now, you might be wondering:
"What the fuck did I just see?"

Apparently, that came from
a Russian show called "Stone Faces",

where contestants slap each other
as hard as they can.

And this particular guy is a renowned
competitive slapper

whose real name doesn't matter
because his nickname is "Dumpling",

which is just an outstanding name
for that man.

And at this point,
I don't need to know anything else,

I'm all in
on competitive slapping.

Tell me what channel to subscribe to
in order to watch it

and where to order
my Dumpling jersey.

If we are all reaching
the point of desperation

where we're honestly willing

to watch large men slap each other
in a windowless room,

there is clearly a desire
to restart sporting events.

The question, though, isn't
why sports should come back,

it's how that can safely happen.

To do it responsibly would be
a mammoth undertaking.

To do it irresponsibly, however,
turns out to be pretty easy.

The state of Florida, early on,
designated professional sports

and media production with a national
audience as an essential service,

so long as it's closed
to the general public.

The WWE has continued staging shows
in Florida,

holding matches
in front of empty chairs.

But, that requires a lot more people
than just those two wrestlers.

You need production crews
working together in close proximity.

While the WWE maintains

its safety measures are
as comprehensive as they can be,

one employee wrote an anonymous
letter to a Florida county commissioner

asking them to shut the tapings
down, because:

"Despite sanitary precautions,
we cannot maintain social distancing"

"and have to touch other people."

It's easy to see why CEO McMahon
doesn't mind them taking that risk,

as he told investors
on a recent earnings call,

viewers want to see new matches.

I think new content is always a driver
in terms of stimulating interest

and obviously everyone is pretty
much starved for new content.

It could very well be that
you're tired of watching Netflix

and you want to see strong men
running around in their underwear.

I would argue that the risks of
creating content the way that you are

seem to outweigh
the benefits right now.

No one on that call registered
your point there,

because you just said "stimulating",
"strong men", "underwear"

and, crucially "driver",
all in the same sentence.

At which point, everyone's minds
turned immediately

to getting absolutely bone-crushed
by Adam Driver.

Chokeslam me to hell,
you nasty shed.

Jam your mandible claw down
my throat, you irredeemable steer.

Quick side note here:

a lot of you might well be wondering
where I'm going with this bit.

If you're anything like my staff,
you're asking questions like:

"Is this sexual or is it violent?"

And you're then unsatisfied when
the answer comes back: "Yes".

If you're like my wife, you might be
asking: "Should I be worried",

with concern growing when the answer
is: "Only if you want to be."

What of Adam Driver himself?

Is he bothered
by this continued sexualization?

He seems a fairly private guy who's
generally uncomfortable with attention,

making what I'm doing
possibly some form of harassment.

He might actually have pretty good
grounds to have me reprimanded legally,

to which I say, do it.

Slap a restraining order on me,
you forlorn block.

Beg me to stop,
you menacing obstacle.

And it's not just the WWE.

Their competitor,
AEW, is also taping shows in Florida.

And the UFC just last week started
hosting matches in Jacksonville.

While they couldn't fly in
international fighters for that event,

their president, Dana White,
has devised an insane workaround.

Fight Island is real.
Fight Island is a real thing.

It's happening. The infrastructure
is being built right now on the island.

I'm ready to go.

Yes, the UFC is apparently building
a facility on a private island

that they're calling "Fight Island".

Is that a clever name? No.
Is it the perfect name? Yes.

It's the first thought
an idiot would have

if they wanted to name
a private island where fights happen.

He could have called it Brawlhamas,
or Puerto Ruckus,

or Owie Maui, or Slam Miguel.

But he didn't.
He didn't do that.

He didn't go with the obvious name for
an island where you stage UFC fights,

which is simply, UF-Sea.

Look at me, Dana.
Why didn't you just call it UF-Sea?

It's perfect.

But clearly, staging events
is risky at the moment.

Just the day before
last weekend's UFC event,

a fighter had to pull out after he and
two of his cornermen tested positive,

underscoring the fact that if you want
to come back completely without risk,

that's just not possible right now.

Yet, many sports organizations are
feeling pressure to ignore that risk

especially college sports, where some
schools' athletic programs rely heavily

on revenue from football.

While you would hope
that coaches would talk

about the tradeoffs of risk
and safety with some tact,

Oklahoma State football coach
Mike Gundy seemed comfortable

saying the quiet parts loud.

In my opinion, if we have to bring
our players back, test them,

they're in good shape, they're all 18,
19, 20, 21, 22-years-old, healthy.

A lot of them can fight it off with it
with their natural body,

the antibodies
and build that they have.

We need to continue to budget and run
money through the state of Oklahoma.

Jesus Christ.
I don't know whose medical advice

is worth the least
in the middle of a pandemic,

but "guy who doesn't mind
unpaid college kids contracting"

"a potentially deadly disease so
everyone else can make millions"

is right down near the bottom,

along with the advice
of "funeral parlor magnate"

and "the coronavirus
wearing a fake mustache."

Gundy later apologized
for those comments,

but there was a real honesty
to what he said there.

Profit is a powerful motivator here,
especially for some team owners,

who won't be
the ones taking the risks.

It's why major sports
like baseball and football

are so eagerly pursuing
plans to come back.

Assuming that you can't just stage
all events in Jacksonville

or on some
stupidly-named island somewhere,

how do you do it
in the safest possible way?

For what it's worth, Anthony Fauci
has outlined how that could happen.

There's a way of doing that.
Nobody comes to the stadium,

put them in big hotels,
wherever you want to play,

keep them very well surveilled,
namely a surveillance,

but have them tested like every week.

And make sure they don't wind up
infecting each other or their family

and just let them
play the season out.

You just isolate everyone involved
and test the hell out of them.

Which, intuitively,
seems like it might work.

After all, we already have a show
where a bunch of people

with incredible bodies get monitored
all day to make sure

that they don't touch each other,
it's called "Too Hot To Handle"

and it is perfect.

One of the hot idiots proposed to one
of the other hot idiots with a Ring Pop

and if you haven't watched this show

and you're still complaining about
being "starved for content",

you're out of your fucking mind.

And ideas along the lines
of what Fauci just proposed,

so-called "bubble leagues",
have been floated for multiple sports.

Major League Baseball, for instance,
was at one point reportedly

discussing plans to play
all of their games in Arizona.

On its face, that seems simple:

you just seclude the teams and
you have them play with no fans.

When you think about that
for more than a second,

it all becomes
much more complicated.

Of course, you wouldn't
just be isolating players,

you'd be doing that for coaching staff,
team physicians, trainers, umpires,

clubhouse attendants, bus drivers,
camera crews and hotel staff.

By one estimate,
even a bubble league

would require nearly 10 000 people,
who would need constant testing.

There is a key distinction here.
Because, while pro wrestlers,

UFC fighters and college athletes
have no union,

those in major pro sports do.

Therefore, they have
significant negotiating power.

If you want them to isolate
themselves from families

and put their lives at risk,
you need their agreement.

And some big names,
like the Angels' Mike Trout,

still have some significant concerns.

What are you gonna do with family
members? My wife is pregnant.

What am I gonna do when
she goes into labor?

Am I gonna have to quarantine
for two weeks after I come back

'cause obviously I can't miss that,
you know, birth of our first child.

Yeah, he's right.

The League should not ask anyone
to miss the birth of their first child,

that is a magic moment.

Now, second child, that's negotiable.
Same shit, different day.

The third child, I'm not even sure
the mother has to be there.

But that first child
is simply unmissable.

And after pushback
from multiple players,

Major League Baseball has
walked away from the Arizona idea,

with an official even saying
earlier this month:

"I would be lying if we were
to say we have a good idea."

"They're all degrees of bad."

And that is true of so many current
proposals for sports to come back,

the second you start
reading the details of any plan,

it automatically becomes ridiculous.

The MLB's new idea is to play
an abbreviated season

in as many empty
home ballparks as possible.

But, teams would still have
to travel to those,

they're not being quarantined.

And for a sense of just how easy
it is for something to go wrong,

look at Germany.

That country has handled
this pandemic much better

and they are in a very different
situation than we are in the U.S.

That enabled their soccer league
to actually come back this weekend,

employing a kind
of bubble league approach,

without fans and with all team
personnel quarantined in a hotel.

But, two players
have already tested positive,

forcing their entire team
to isolate for 14 days.

One top coach missed the first game

after he left
the hotel to buy toothpaste

and now can't rejoin his team
until he has two negative tests.

And that shows just how difficult
it is to do any of this effectively.

I will own the fact I really want
sports to come back.

There is no doubt that
they have the ability to inspire.

One of the things that sport does
best is to bring people together

in times of crisis, like when Yankees
resumed playing after 9/11.

Unfortunately, though,
bringing people together

is the exact thing
we should not be doing right now.

While sport was genuinely helpful
at the start of this crisis

in showing us
how serious the virus was,

if it comes back too soon,
and irresponsibly,

it won't be an inspiration,
it'll be a cautionary tale.

As hard as it is to hear,
we might need a little more time

to make sure that we get this right,
phasing sports back in slowly,

with tailored approaches
that take into account

each sports' level of contact and
robust systems of testing and tracing.

I know that there is currently
an absence in people's lives.

Ideally, what you'd want is something
that could fill that gap for a while,

until sports can return, something
with an existing infrastructure,

a schedule of heart-pounding events,
a passionate fan base

and no human contact, something
to which I am obviously building.

If you've been on Twitter lately,
you may have seen this viral video.

Marbles in the blocks,
and they're off!

It's a neck and neck and neck race
up there at the front

and actually
Comet hits the divider.

The Attenuator slows him down
and he falls back into third place

under the clutches
of Deep Ocean.

So, it's Reflector out front and
now Tarantula takes the lead.

Fuck yes. Let me introduce you
to Jelle's Marble Runs.

They're based in the Netherlands

and they are a competitive
marble racing league,

that is, to put it mildly,
absolutely fantastic.

They upload races to this
YouTube channel on a regular basis

and nobody to whom we have shown
this, including non-sports fans,

has not ended up wanting
to watch more.

There are entire racetracks
with marbles as fans,

plus a marble tournament
with 16 different events

featuring relays, water courses
and obstacles.

There are also backstories
for the marbles involved

and some truly passionate fans.

20 000 people from around the world
tuned in live to watch last week's race

and Jelle's Marble Runs' YouTube
channel has millions of views.

There are big fan bases built up,
not just for the teams,

but for the individual marbles.

When one isn't performing
very well in the season,

you're gonna hear about it
on there.

And they will let that marble know
they gotta pick up their game.

Now, on the one hand,
that's amazing.

On the other hand,
the marbles don't really need fans

to tell them
when they're off their game.

Take a look at the Midnight Wisps.
Came in fourth in their debut season,

just missing the podium.

But, did they settle for that?
No, they didn't.

They came back the next year
and they won it all!

They used their shortcomings
as motivation to come back stronger.

Or... rounder?

I don't know, whichever adjective
is best for marbles.

The point is, this isn't just
a YouTube distraction,

it's a beautiful, competitive event

and the world needs those
more than ever right now.

This year's marble league tournament
is actually due to start next month.

with times being hard,

the League was struggling for money,
even tweeting:

"To make the ♪MarbleLeague
we need sponsors,"

"a headsponsor
and some smaller sponsors."

So, this beautiful thing
is in danger of going away,

just when we need it the most.

Or, rather, it was in danger,
because it turns out,

they're not actually looking
for a sponsor anymore.

And the reason I know that
is you are looking

at the new, sole sponsor
of the upcoming tournament.

That is right:
we are proudly sponsoring

all 16 events over
the next few months.

But wait,
because there is a twist here.

In addition to our sponsorship,
the winner of each event

will get $5 000 donated
to a food bank in their name.

Whether is the Raspberry Racers,
the Green Ducks, the Hazers

or even the Oceanics, although,

they'll need a ton of reorganization
in the locker room

because they were
a fucking mess last year.

And what's more,
at the end of the entire tournament,

the overall winner will get
a $20 000 donation

made in their marble team's name
to the International Rescue Committee.

It is the only way
that we could think

of making what these guys
are doing even better.

So, please, check this out.

Jelle's Marble Runs
and Last Week Tonight present.

Down they come,
Hazers to the lead.

Green Ducks into the water.
They have a lot of trouble moving

through those quick chicanes
to start things off.

Can the Savage Speeders
keep their momentum up?

They fall into the final funnel.

Raspberry Racers fight for gold!

The sports event of the summer
has arrived.


He was knocked off.
Fight going on in the fan section.

Raspberry Racers, they take the lead.
Neck in neck, all four...

Finish line in sight.
Who's gonna get it?

Marble League 2020.
Premiering June 21st.

This One's for All the Marbles.

You can find the Marble League
in June at this website,

although you can catch up
on past races right now.

That's our show, we're off next week
so we'll see you in two weeks.

Thank you so much for
watching, marble fans, good night!