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.

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