John Oliver looked back at his homeland across the pond Sunday on Last Week Tonight. "The United Kingdom, the country whose most beloved children's book is about a friendless child who thinks a bear with an eating disorder and a depressed donkey are talking to him," Oliver said to introduce Britain. The country came up because almost a year after the United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union, the government is finally ready to start negotiations over leaving. Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, and Oliver used emojis to describe Brexit. And by the looks of it, Britain is not feeling so hot about it.
But first, Oliver played footage of May announcing the official start of the process. "This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back," May told Parliament on Wednesday. Oliver had a different take on it. "Her phrasing is ominous, though," Oliver points out. "'A historic moment from which there can be no turning back' could just as easily apply to getting a Limp Bizkit tattoo or the moment after your cult drank their suicide potions." But if you think that is dark, just wait until Oliver breaks out the emojis.
It seems he stole the idea from a BBC program that tried to show the division among the British public. They held up emoji cards to show how they felt about it. Happy, unhappy, or "worried and confused" were the options. It was clearly a mixed bag among the participants. The one person that was not sad, though, was Nigel Farage. Oliver said he was "thrilled" and played a video of him gloating.
And that brings me to Oliver's version of the emojis:
Like many British people, I'm really struggling to find the words for how difficult and depressing the next two years are going to be. So I thought I might try in emoji form. Europe is feeling crying kitty cat at the moment while Nigel Farage has a full, throbbing eggplant, and I personally am hovering between crying face and handgun because it seems our best case scenario is just pray emoji that this does not turn into a flaming pile of sh*t.
Oliver also took a look at the process. To trigger Article 50, May literally had to write a letter — hand delivered to the president of the European Council "which began, 'Dear President Tusk,' which really should be the start of a letter that you write to a walrus president." But that was not the case.
"Sadly it was a breakup letter to a man named Donald Tusk, who seemed understandably devastated," Oliver said. Then he cut to footage from a press conference in which Tusk said, "There's no reason to pretend that this is a happy day, neither in Brussels nor in London ... What can I add to this? We already miss you."
Oliver would argue that the EU should not miss the UK after all. "You will get over Britain," Oliver said, trying to cheer up Tusk. "If you do ever find yourself missing it, here's what works for me. Just stare at this picture of an angry old woman in a racist t-shirt eating beans on toast in the rain. Because that is what you are actually leaving behind."
What comes next is "24 hours of promising to pull out — or as Sting calls it, 'a one night stand,'" Oliver joked. And there will surely be more emojis to describe exactly what happens.
Images: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver/HBO