Stand-up Economist gets UMKC laughing

stand-up economist
Yoram Bauman, the stand-up economist, performed at UMKC.

Yoram Bauman has an unusual profession. In fact, he may be the only one in his field.

Still, the “world’s first and only stand-up economist” has found a niche for himself. Bauman has taken his unique blend of economics-based comedy everywhere from Time Magazine to PBS. Most recently, he brought it to the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“I got my Ph.D. in economics, only to decide that I wanted to do stand-up comedy,” Bauman told a crowd of nearly 200 people.

Before they’d even heard the punch line, the crowd of UMKC economics students, professors and local economy buffs started giggling.

“You can imagine how much this thrilled my father,” Bauman said. “He told me I’d never make it as a stand-up economist. I said ‘why not?’ and he said, ‘there’s no demand.’ ”

From there, Bauman’s jokes became predictably more complex, and more aimed at true economics enthusiasts.

He drew big laughs for his “translation” of macroeconomist and Harvard University Professor Gregory Mankiw’s Ten Principles of Economics. The bigger laughs came when Bauman dissected the YouTube comments posted under a video clip of Bauman’s “translation” of the famed Ten Principles of Economics.

Bauman earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington, though there seemed to be no need to tout his credentials. As Bauman told the crowd, it’s obvious that he is a real economist because he can make fun of sub-disciplines that are completely indistinguishable to outsiders.

Bauman performs regularly at colleges, corporate events, and comedy clubs across the country. His UMKC performance was hosted by the UMKC Department of Economics.

Stephanie Kelton, associate professor and chair of the department, kicked off Bauman’s act by explaining that Bauman’s uncommon blend of stand-up comedy and economics is befitting for the UMKC Department of Economics, which is internationally recognized for its own unique approach to economics.

The department has a history of going against traditional approaches to economic theory in favor of Modern Money Theory. As a result, UMKC economics professors correctly predicted the U.S. housing market crash, the recession and the Eurozone debt crisis.

Of course, their track record has garnered the department plenty of media attention. Perhaps most notably, the department had a recent five-page feature in Playboy Magazine.

“Of course, none of us have seen the issue,” Kelton joked with a laughing crowd. “So we have no idea how the article came off.”

On perhaps the evening’s one serious note, Kelton talked about the importance of making the event open to the public.

“We’re partners in the community. We’re engaged,” Kelton said. “We don’t just sit detached, cranking out research papers and teaching courses. We’re in the community and we care very much about the fact that this is an urban university.”

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