Oliver took a deep dive into the subject, noting that psychics are frequent guests on daytime talk shows and even have dozens of their own shows on basic cable. He specifically looked at mediums like Caputo, who claim they can speak to the dead and have shows that delve into their private lives.
"The crazy thing about these shows is how they chose to focus on these psychics' personal lives," Oliver said. "Who gives a s– about that? If I actually believed they could communicate with the dead, that is the only thing I'd want to see them doing. The Long Island Medium can ask Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi and Shakespeare anything she wants, so tune in next week as she thinks about getting bangs!"
Oliver said he could admit that mediums do make for "compelling TV" because mediums can often bring audience members to tears.
"Although, I will say it is weird that the conduit to the afterlife is for some reason Theresa Caputo, living proof of what would happen if you added too much baking soda to Edie Falco," he quipped.
Oliver then broke down the techniques mediums use to make it appear as though they spoke to the dead, including cold reading, in which a medium takes high probability guesses. The host also showed how mediums can use research of their subjects ahead of time to make it appear as though they spoke with a deceased loved one.
Later on, he showed a clip of Caputo's appearance on Meredith Vieira's show, in which she tried to explain why a murder victim would not tell her who the killer was.
"If I was murdered, I would definitely name names as a ghost," Oliver said. "It's not like one of the rules in heaven is ghost snitches get ghost stitches. As we know in heaven, the only rule is no f– the clouds."
While someone may say it is harmless to tell someone their grandmother loved them, Oliver said it was "reckless" for a stranger to "take a stab at ventriloquizing the dead." He then explained how mediums could exploit vulnerable people, bringing up the example of one woman who went to prison for defrauding clients of $17.8 million.
In the end, Oliver provided his viewers with a way to reach out to psychics if they wanted to, cutting to his own daytime talk show Wakey Wakey With John Oliver. His guest was Staten Island psychic and the author of These Freakin' Spirits, Lemme Tell Ya Wanda Jo Oliver (Rachel Dratch), a parody of Caputo.
Oliver asked his "wife" when she realized she was a psychic.
"It was right after I saw a thing on TV about how much money psychics can make and suddenly, I was like, 'Me too!'" Wanda Jo replied. "Hashtag Me Too!"
Oliver told his audience Wanda Jo was now giving away free psychic readings at WandaJoTheFreePsychic.com. Then, Wanda Jo gave a sample of a psychic reading based on "cold reading."
Last Week Tonight airs on HBO Sunday nights at 11 p.m. ET.
Photo credit: HBO