Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

John Oliver enlists Wilmer Valderrama to profile a country more fucked up than ours

John Oliver
Screenshot: Last Week Tonight

Considering what Last Week Tonight host John Oliver termed the “hurricane of shit” we in America have to deal with on a daily basis, it’s easy to forget that there are world governments even more corrupt, insane, and dysfunctional than the Trump administration. Take Venezuela, the subject of Oliver’s main story on Sunday’s episode, and, in many ways, merely a moderately exaggerated example of what a government run by an egomaniacal, tone deaf, media-obsessed, authoritarian chow hound can look like. To be fair, unlike current Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Donald Trump doesn’t claim to be in contact with the spirit of his late predecessor in the form of a wisdom-dispensing bird. That we know of. Wait until Fire And Fury 2 hits the stands.

Still, Oliver warned his audience that his Venezuela piece wouldn’t be all loony would-be dictators telling detractors “You can suck yourself” on national television, and getting caught sneaking an empanada on camera while the country in in the midst of a devastating food shortage. (Critics call it “the Maduro diet,” which, according to Oliver, is about as apt as calling Jim Jones’ signature beverage “the Jonestown juice cleanse.”) With riots—involving lots of hurled human feces—in the streets, spiraling inflation, a seriously rigged election, a dismantled and Maduro-packed Supreme Court, and an authoritarian takeover of country’s governing body, Venezuela is—again even more than the United States—seriously screwed. With the May 20 presidential election all but sewn up by the manipulating Maduro and his minions (his wife and son are leading candidates for high office as well), Oliver noted that there are no easy answers to the country’s crushing constitutional and humanitarian crisis.


So, being John Oliver, cue Wilmer Valderrama in a parrot costume. The actor, who grew up in Venezuela, addressed Maduro with as much gravitas as a former costar of That 70s Show in a bright green bird suit can muster. Echoing Oliver’s point that Maduro has even rejected offers of foreign food and medical aid out of some combination of stubborn ego and conspiracy-minded nonsense, Valderrama scolded the president, saying, “Accept aid, and cool it with the dictator stuff.” Hoisted into the Last Week Tonight rafters, the actor/bird could only promise Maduro that both literal and figurative shit will be flinging his way, otherwise. “And I should know,” he intoned solemnly, “I’m a bird.”

Share This Story

About the author

Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.