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How a Sarah Silverman skit played a role in Menlo Park's ban on payday lenders

 

Comedian Sarah Silverman showed surprise when the mayor of Menlo Park, Catherine Carlton, called in to say thank you during a radio interview on Friday, Oct. 9, on KQED-FM.

In August 2014, Mayor Carlton said, Ms. Silverman performed a skit on John Oliver's HBO show, "Last Week Tonight," that humorously denounced payday lenders, known for charging interest rates of more than 400 percent.

In the skit, Ms. Silverman said, "If you're thinking about getting a payday loan, just simply pick up the phone, then put it down again and do literally anything else."

Ms. Silverman's skit, part of John Oliver's segment on payday lenders, premiered within days of the Menlo Park City Council's own discussion and ultimate decision to ban payday lenders from Menlo Park on Aug. 26, 2014.

"That's amazing!" Ms. Silverman responded.

"What you do is really funny, and it's entertaining ... but I wanted to also thank you and let you know that you are actually making an impact in the world as well," Mayor Carlton said.

Ms. Silverman pointed out that while she usually performs her own material, in this case the skit was written by John Oliver's writers.

In August 2014, the City Council made the city's moratorium on payday and auto title loan businesses a permanent ban.

The city's moratorium on payday and auto title lenders was enacted in 2012, after Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto (CLSEPA) approached the city about taking preemptive action before these lenders came to Menlo Park.

The ban was supported by such organizations as CLSEPA, Jobtrain, Nuestra Casa, California Reinvestment Coalition, Project Read, Ravenswood Family Health Center, Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Youth Leadership Institute, Asian Law Alliance, Housing and Economic Rights Activists and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley.

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