Stand-Up Economist Combines Comedy with Economics at Mission College

Stand-Up Economist Combines Comedy with Economics at Mission
Santa Clara Weekly, Diane Andrews, Wednesday, March 31st, 2010,

"I just today went and did a show at Google, and all I got was a lousy T-shirt," says Yoram Bauman, Ph.D., self-acclaimed as the world's first and only stand-up economist, to his late afternoon audience at Mission College March 25.

"Stimulate the economy. Buy me a drink," was the sage advice written on Bauman's own T-shirt.

While in graduate school getting his Ph.D. in economics at the University of  Washington, Bauman had written a parody of the "ten principles of economics" from Greg Mankiw's popular economics textbook and thus accidentally launched a side career in comedy. He now performs his routines at colleges, comedy clubs, corporate events, and professional conferences around the country. He is a microeconomist whose focus is the environment.

At Mission College at the invitation of Rick Hobbs, Mathematics Department instructor,
Bauman and his well-polished 45-minute comedy routine with accompanying slides clipped along from one laugh to another:

"I have one thing going for me—low expectations. And I get to make fun of macroeconomists."

"The difference, of course, being that microeconomists are people who are wrong about specific things and macroeconomists are wrong about things in general."

"Macroeconomists have successfully predicted nine out of the last five recessions."

Bauman was invited to Google headquarters in Mountain View to promote his book Cartoon Introduction to Economics, Volume 1: Microeconomics. The publisher called Bauman and asked him to write the book, which he did in collaboration with Grady Klein, the illustrator. Written over the period of a year, it was released in January and immediately sold out the first printing of 10,000 copies. It is now in its second printing, and translation rights have been sold in China, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and Thailand.

Bauman's comedic approach to economics may be unorthodox but his goals as an environmental economist are serious. He intends "to spread joy to the world through economics comedy; to reform economics education; and to implement carbon pricing, preferably through a revenue-neutral tax shift involving lower taxes on things we like (working, saving, investing) and higher taxes on things we don’t like (e.g., carbon) through either a carbon tax or an auctioned cap-and-trade system."

A native San Franciscan with family still in the Bay Area, Bauman now lives in Seattle. He is a freeway flier, working as an environmental economist for the University of Washington, teaching part-time at a high school and at Bainbridge Graduate Institute,  and consulting on the economics of climate change.

“I wake up every  morning and think about carbon pricing," the stand-up economist says in all seriousness.

In the face of sobering economic realities, as with the vicissitudes of life, perhaps laughter is still the best medicine. Bauman's short routine "Ten Principles of Economics, Translated" can be viewed on YouTube via a link on his website: It has had more than 700,000 hits. You can also view his appearance schedule, read more about him, and order his inexpensive book from his website.

Peter Anning
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