John Oliver Gets Down to Business on Corporate Consolidation

Comedy Video John Oliver
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John Oliver returned to his Emmy-winning HBO show after a week off, and delivered, in classic Last Week Tonight fashion, a wildly entertaining main segment about the most boring of subjects. Viewers who didn’t lunge for the remote when Oliver opened with “I would like to talk to you about business” were rewarded with a characteristically scathing, funny and informative story about just how consolidated the U.S. corporate landscape has become.

Oliver, ever an exposer of hypocrisy, first establishes how many politicians have parroted the same pro-small business sentiment—“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy”—before going on to illustrate at length just how untrue that talking point has become. Not only are new business creation rates falling decade-over-decade, but big businesses are becoming even more so, with record highs in mergers and acquisitions. Oliver also takes a second to show off that Emmy up top, because why the hell not?

The host then runs through the laundry list of massive companies that have merged, including HBO’s own parent company, Time Warner, which is currently circling a merger with AT&T. Acknowledging that this fact makes the story as a whole “a little dangerous for us to do,” Oliver goes on to ruthlessly mock AT&T, replace Jim Cramer’s sound effects with farts, use airlines (United, in particular) to point out how exactly monopolies screw over consumers (“Thanks to consolidation, [businesses] don’t really need to give a shit about what you think”), liken an eyeglass company CEO to a Bond villain and detonate a cable box. Ah, catharsis.

Oliver puts an exclamation point on the end of it all by circling back to those “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy”-spouting politicians: “If they really believe that, it may be time for them to stop talking about backbones and actually fucking grow one.”

Watch Oliver’s segment in full above, and stick around till the end for a symphony of farts.