The town of Kilkenny in Ireland has just hosted the sixth annual Kilkenomics festival (Nov 5–8) where economics and comedy meet. The festival brought together comedians and economists to take a look at some of the most pressing economic and social issues, such as the refugee crisis, economic recovery, banking and finance, the growth in inequality, the future of the EU, economic power, the environment and personal behaviour.
With stand-up comedians taking a sideways look at economic issues and top economists having their ideas lampooned, or lampooning them themselves, the festival provided a fun, but useful, reality check for the discipline of economics.
The festival attracted some major names in the field of comedy, economics, journalism and politics. Perhaps the biggest draw was the former finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis (see also), who opened the festival with a withering attack on the economic model being pursued by Greece’s creditors (the European Commission, the IMF and the ECB).
Much of the comedy was really aimed, not so much at economics and economists, but more at how politicians pursue economic policies and interpret economic models in ways that suit their own political agenda. But still there was no escape for economists. Much of the humour was directed at unrealistic assumptions and unrealistic visions of how economies function.
Thanks to JokEc for the following:
|•||Economics is the only field in which two people can get a Nobel Prize for saying exactly the opposite thing.|
|•||If you rearrange the letters in “ECONOMICS”, you get “COMIC NOSE”.|
|•||Economics has got so rigorous we’ve all got rigor mortis.|
|•||How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?|
I’ll leave you to work out the best answer to that last one – there could be many depending on the school of thought.
Videos and podcasts
Kilkenomics Promo – 2015 Kilkenomics on YouTube (23/10/15)
Kilkenomics: Highlights 1 Kilkenomics on YouTube (27/10/15)
Kilkenomics: Highlights 2 Kilkenomics on YouTube (30/10/15)
Kilkenomics 2014 BBC ‘In the Balance’ (9/11/14)
Kilkenomics launches biggest programme to date Meath Chronicle (1/10/15)
The subversive wonders of Kilkenomics – where economics meets stand-up The Spectator, Liam Halligan (15/11/14)
Guilty as charged: Irish standup festival puts economics in the dock The Guardian, Larry Elliott (8/11/15)
Ireland no paradigm of successful austerity – Varoufakis The Irish Times, Eoin Burke Kennedy (5/11/15)
Economy of sex … how much are your orgasms costing you? Irish Independent, Niamh Horan (8/11/15)
- What is it about economics that gives so much material to comedians?
- ‘The worse it gets the funnier it seems because comedy exists with tragedy.’ To what extent is this true of economics as a discipline or simply of the state of the world economists are studying at any one time?
- Should assumptions in economics always be realistic? Explain why or why not.
- For what types of reason might economists disagree?
- Make up an economics joke and test it on your fellow students. Perhaps there ought to be a vote for the funniest and a prize for the winner. What was it about the winning joke that made it the funniest?