“Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver took a deep dive into the shady world of psychics, mediums and “psychic detectives” on Sunday night, exposing how they manipulate vulnerable people for profit.
“I am not going to be litigating whether psychics are real in this piece,” he said. “For one, they’re not. See? No litigation required.”
Instead, Oliver aimed to expose an industry “both larger and grimmer than you might assume,” one that is worth an estimated $2.2 billion.
“That’s not to say I won’t be showing you clips of psychics fucking up,” Oliver said. “But that is only because it’s really funny.”
Oliver explained psychics’ two main techniques ― cold readings and hot readings ― and how they work to fool susceptible people, especially those grieving after a death. But as promised, he also peppered the segment with plenty of scenes of psychics screwing up on camera, including a “psychic detective” in a Denny’s caught in a sting with a local news reporter.
After staring at a picture and declaring the child in the image to be dead, the psychic met the boy out in the parking lot.
“I would argue that that is the only responsible way to put a psychic on television: humiliating them with a ghost boy in a Denny’s parking lot,” Oliver said.
Then, he launched a mock daytime talk show, complete with a psychic of his own: his “wife” Wanda Jo Oliver (a.k.a. semi-regular “Last Week Tonight” co-conspirator and “Saturday Night Live” alum Rachel Dratch).
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Check out the full segment in the clip above.