John Oliver Discusses Shining Spotlight on Joe Exotic Before 'Tiger King'

The Netflix phenomenon is "not the hero America needs, but the hero it deserves right now," the 'Last Week Tonight' host told 'Late Night's Seth Meyers.

Three years before Joe Exotic rose to coronavirus-era stardom as one of the iconoclastic characters on Netflix's much-binged docuseries Tiger King, he was spotlighted on HBO's Last Week Tonight as a potential 2016 presidential election third-party candidate. In a segment recently unearthed by the show, host John Oliver calls Exotic "truly the candidate you want to sit down and have a beer with."

In 2020, Exotic is "not the hero America needs, but the hero it deserves right now," Oliver told Seth Meyers during an appearance on Late Night on Monday. As for why he saw something "special" in Exotic in the first place, Oliver said, "We were looking for the craziest third-party candidate, found his ad, and it was just the lowest hanging, juiciest fruit, almost you think, always, 'Could this be real? Mmm, so sweet, so juicy.'"

Oliver added that the seeds for Tiger King were already in place by the time a researcher looked into Exotic and his private zoo in 2016. The researcher noted, "He talks a lot about this person named Carol," Oliver told Meyers.

Also during his appearance on Monday's Late Night, Oliver addressed another balm for these times of self-quarantine: the queen of England's speech about the coronavirus. When Meyers asked if the speech was a "tonic," Oliver asked in reply, "What kind of tonic?", later comparing it to a high-end tonic sold by Goop, which notoriously has made product claims not backed up by medical or scientific facts. "If the queen's not speaking at Christmas, it's because things are not doing well," he noted. "The queen turning up in itself is not a reassuring thing." He did, however, enjoy that Elizabeth II wore a green dress during the speech, which led some enterprising social media users to superimpose other images onto the dress: "If you don't want to be dressed like Iron Man, don't wear a green dress," Oliver concluded.

At the end of the appearance, Meyers, hitting on one more pop-cultural moment amid the coronavirus, asked Oliver on his thoughts on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director and adviser to President Donald Trump on coronavirus. Asked whether Fauci should challenge Trump on false or exaggerated statements, Oliver responded, "That would mean that he couldn't do his job anymore. There's nothing more important than him doing his job as long as he possibly can. So he's going to need to draw on internal reserves of discipline that I certainly don't have access to."