With about 86 percent of American commuters relying on an automobile to get to and from work, car ownership is a necessary evil in many people’s lives. But cars are expensive, and most people obviously have to take out loans to be able to afford them. As John Oliver pointed out on Sunday night’s Last Week Tonight, however, about one quarter of automotive loans are subprime loans, which are targeted to those who may have difficulty maintaining them, and to make matters worse, these loans just reached a 10-year high.
Of course, as many things are more expensive for poor people, these loans make people pay vastly more than a car is worth, with the average interest rate at a “buy here, pay here” lot coming in at a whopping 19 percent. And if a buyer can’t make payments, which happens more often than not, these car dealers will repossess, typically refusing to refund the buyer’s down payment. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that many are predicting that the subprime lending boom is about to implode like the 2008 mortgage crisis.
There may not be an immediate solution to this ballooning crisis on the horizon, but in the meantime Oliver enlisted the help of Keegan-Michael Key, or “Crazy Jimmy,” to brutally mock the subprime lending industry with his own buy here, pay here business, Crazy Johnny’s Used Cars! “Well Howdy there folks!,” Oliver starts off, “Do you need a car? You can’t afford a car? No problem! Just come right on down today to Crazy Johnny’s!” After extolling some of the finer points of the insidious practice (with a cameo by Bob Balaban playing an accountant, “Crazy Walter”), Oliver closes out by saying, “The point is that it is so easy to get you in this car, it is almost criminal!” “It truly feels like it should be a criminal activity!,” Key yell-adds. “And yet somehow, it isn’t!”