More Bucks for Less Yucks: Cost of Laughing Index Up Again

SNL is having its best season in years. The late night comedians are on a ratings roll. And politicians keep putting their feet in their mouths. You’d think this tremendously increased supply of comedy would decrease prices. You’d be wrong. Because the 2017 Cost of Laughing Index jumped 2.47%.

That may not sound like much. But in year over year comparisons, the Index is like an old man on Viagra. It rises just enough to be annoying.

Since 1986, the Cost of Laughing Index has measured the annual price change in comedy clubs across the U.S., as well as prices of rubber chickens, whoopee cushions, Mad magazine and other comedy staples. The Index even has its own Wikipedia page. And it’s always released around April 1st.

So why the increase?

Rubber chickens were a major factor. They may not be susceptible to bird flu but price flew is another story. And this year they flew through the coop. The wholesale price of rubber chickens bounced from $30 to $33 a dozen – a whopping 10% jump.

And they were not alone. Wholesale whoopee cushion prices inflated by 8.7%. Groucho glasses rose 6%. And the minimum fee for writing a half-hour television sitcom jumped 2.5%.

On the positive side, singing telegrams delivered by dancing chickens or pink gorillas held steady. And Mad magazine remained $5.99 an issue.

But that’s not much of a positive side. Clearly, this country has a problem when prices rise despite abundant supply. The obvious conclusion: a demand problem. Our demand for laughter has reached epidemic proportions. From the smallest rural hamlets to the largest metropolitan neighborhoods, we have become addicted to humor. And our addiction is being fed by the comedy cartels.

Can they be stopped with a border wall? Maybe. Opponents say that the cartels would just throw jokes over the wall. Supporters note that jokes that go over your head don’t count because nobody “gets” them. Opponents also object to a wall on aesthetic grounds. They say it would be ugly to look at. Supporters say this can be handled with an elegant design. The current favorite is a wall designed to “laugh with” people on the inside and “laugh at” people on the outside.

But that still doesn’t get to the root of the problem – people who are addicted to rubber chickens, whoopee cushions and Groucho glasses. And the manufacturers who raise the prices on these items every year. Is it a coincidence that many of them are manufactured in China?

So a two-pronged approach is needed. First, more treatment programs. Anyone addicted to rubber chickens, whoopee cushions or Groucho glasses needs help. Second, we’ve got to get Big Comedy to lower the prices of these comedy staples. Hopefully, a trade war won’t be necessary. My suggestion: the president can use his bully pulpit to jawbone manufacturers. And he can use wax lips.

And that’s no joke.

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