Marketplace has a new podcast for kids, "Million Bazillion!" EPISODE OUT NOW

The cost of comedy

Marketplace Staff Mar 24, 2011

The cost of comedy

Marketplace Staff Mar 24, 2011

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Inflation is certainly no joke. And neither is this fact: It’s getting more expensive to buy things that are funny. The 2011 Cost of Laughing Index keeps going up and up. What does that mean for the economy?

Malcolm Kushner, is a comedian and consultant and is the guy who compiles this list. Good morning.

MALCOM KUSHNER: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: What are we thinking about when we thinking about the cost of laughter? What are you talking about?

KUSHNER: Well, it measures what I like to call the 18 leading humor indicators in America. It includes things like the wholesale price of rubber chickens, whoopie cushions, and things like, you know — staples of humor. And it’s also to give it geographic balance it also includes the Saturday night admission to 10 comedy clubs in cities across the U.S.

CHIOTAKIS: So a broad spectrum then of comedy?

KUSHNER: Absolutely.

CHIOTAKIS: What is it that you saw this time?

KUSHNER: Well, after lat year, which was incredible — I’ve been doing this since 1987 — last year the index dropped for the first time ever. But now it’s back to normal. It jumped 3 percent this year.

CHIOTAKIS: What does that say about the economy if things are more expensive in the comedy field?

KUSHNER: I think it’s a leading indicator. I think the recession really is over.

CHIOTAKIS: Alright, so, I’m thinking, humor, fun — does that mean people are going out more often? How do you make the connection?

KUSHNER: Well, I mean you talk about disposable income. If people can raise prices on — well — Groucho glasses there’s a staple of humor. In two years they’ve gone up 60 percent. It’s incredible.

CHIOTAKIS: How much do Groucho glasses go for these days?

KUSHNER: $24 for a dozen.

CHIOTAKIS: For a dozen. That’s $2 a pair.

KUSHNER: I don’t think Groucho could afford it at that price.

CHIOTAKIS: Malcolm Kushner, comedian consultant and author of this cost of laughter index. Malcolm thanks.

KUSHNER: Oh thank you Steve.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.