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Last Night on Late Night, 5/15/15-5/18/15: ‘Last Week Tonight’ on Chicken Farming, and recap of Friday

Last Night on Late Night, 5/15/15-5/18/15: ‘Last Week Tonight’ on Chicken Farming, and recap of Friday

Late Night

Last night on late night, John Oliver talked NSA, FIFA, and contract chicken farming. On Friday, Oprah and Norm MacDonald came on Late Show, Jimmy Kimmel interviewed a UCSB student whose flute recital invite went viral, and Anna Kendrick hates her “resting bitchy face”.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 

Oliver was surprised to report that the US House of Representatives has passed a measure (H.R. 2048) to stop the NSA collection of telephone data. That measure will be opposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but has a good chance of passing, due to relatively strong bipartisan support and the support of the President, the Director of National Intelligence, and a federal appeals court.

Next, Oliver discusses the upcoming presidential election for FIFA. President Sepp Blatter, a maligned figure in world sport, stands for re-election. Blatter is responsible for handing out the 2018 World Cup to Russia, the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, and suggested once that the women’s game be improved by skimpier clothing. Given FIFA’s long history with corruption scandals, many have looked at the recent World Cup host winners with suspicion. The massive amount of building, done in extreme heat by slave labor, in preparation for 2022 is expected to take more human lives than 9/11.

Oliver touches on the Australia-Johnny Depp dog scandal, where an MP in charge of agriculture suggested that Depp remove his dogs or have them euthanized. The MP, Barnaby Joyce, said that the dogs, “pistol and boo [should] bugger off back to the United States”. Oliver played a clip from an Australian radio interview Joyce did, where the host lambasted him for sounding like “some idiot off the street mouthing off to a news camera”, and cut the interview off after calling Barnaby “an insensitive wanker”.

The main story on Last Week was chicken farming, specifically “contract farming”, or as Oliver puts it, “chicken daycare”. According to Michael Welch, President and CEO of Harrison Poultry and a board member of the National Chicken Council, American chicken production has doubled in the last twenty-five years, from 80 million per week to 160 million per week. Oliver sites a USDA report that 97 percent of chickens are raised in this way. Mass chicken farming has come with costs to chickens, well documented by Compassion in World Farming, but it has also come at a large cost to chicken farmers. Oliver shows stories of farmers from the documentaries The SharecroppersUnder Contract, and Cock Fight, which document the struggles of poultry farmers. Chicken farmers get into the business because they think it’ll be steady income, but according to Oliver, many studies show that most poultry farmers live at or near the poverty line.

What the chicken companies don’t tell the farmers when giving them the pitch is how abusive the business model is. Farmers take the chicks from big chicken companies, and care for them for a month until fully grown. Unfortunately for the farmers, they don’t own the chickens. The chicken companies own the chickens and the feed, while the farmers have to own and maintain all the expensive equipment and facilities. Essentially, everything that can be turned into profit is owned by the companies, and anything that costs money to operate is owned by the farmers. Farmers are kept in debt by having to pay for costly upgrades, and are scored alongside their neighbors in a “gladiatorial” system, where the farmers with the fattest chickens raised on the least amount of feed are rewarded, and those that fall short are punished. If a farmer doesn’t buy upgrades, then the companies withhold chickens, and if the farmers dare to speak out about this practice, they are threatened with financial ruin.

Apparently, protective rules for poultry farmers have been written but not enforced, because a rider inserted into the agricultural appropriations bill prevents the USDA from spending any money to enforce the rules. As Compassion in World Farming suggests, many chicken farmers would rather give their chickens sunlight and fresh air, but the companies demand walled enclosures and don’t budge.

” ‘Why did you let us fuck you over?’ Is not a defense against fucking people over”.

Late Show with David Letterman 

(5/15/15 recap) 

  • Lapsed Canadian comedian Norm MacDonald has often been an amazing guest on Dave’s show. Norm does a great set, and speaks his heartfelt thanks and goodbyes to Dave.

  • “Just more horse shit by the big acid companies, that’s all it is”.
  • The “I.D.” joke is amazing
  • “I don’t know if you guys are history buffs or not, but uh…”

  • Dave is Dave, always.
  • Some highlights of bits outside the Ed Sullivan Theatre. 
  • Paul Shaffer’s “On Broadway” music video, with lots of fun cameos.
  • Late Show does an amazing job of putting more bits from the show online faster than any other late night show. This is no small accomplishment, and obviously has the potential to really help with young viewer engagement and exposure to the show. It’s impressive that a show with an “old” host is the first one to upload, and definitely the most prolific, with more extended guest interviews, more monologues, and more total bits from the show. Good on everyone at Late Show. 
  • Maybe younger generations won’t have ever really experienced Dave at the height of his comedy powers, but with this modern Late Show, the clips are there, and the comedy still is too.

Jimmy Kimmel Live! 

(5/15/15 recap)

  • LA braves the rain
  • Azeem Ward’s Facebook invite to his senior flute recital went viral in the UK, and now has over 80,000 confirmed guests.


The Late Late Show with James Corden

(5/15/15 recap)

  • Anna Kendrick discovers her resting face is less than amicable.