Economist comedians – no, seriously!

Few manage to be both smart and funny, and even fewer can be smart, funny economists. Here are a few who succeed.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters / File
Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, speaks during the Reuters Washington Summit on Sept. 22. Dr. Goolsbee manages to combine sophisticated economic reasoning with an approachable tone that makes him well positioned to present the White House's economic message.">

I heard a very nice story on Austan Goolsbee, the new Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, this morning on NPR. It reminded me that I wanted to hold Austan up as a rare example of an economist who makes economics accessible and compelling to non-economists. Last week the White House featured him doing the above “White House White Board” one-minute explanation of the Obama Administration’s position on the Bush Tax Cuts. I think it’s very effective–even though I’d prefer that we shrink the permanent size of all those circles he draws and swap them for smaller but more “powerful” ones.

The NPR story on Austan links to Austan’s very entertaining appearance on The Colbert Report and quotes Doug Holtz-Eakin saying this about Austan:

“There are not many people who are smart, who are well-trained, and at the same time can take off the gloves and be extremely populist on the airwaves and the campaign trail, and then win comedian of the year award,” said Holtz-Eakin.

But Austan is not the only funny economist out there. Thanks to reader Jim Glass, I’ve discovered the “Stand-Up Economist,” Yoram Bauman, who entertained an economists-only audience at this year’s American Economic Association meetings. You might not really “get” all this humor if you haven’t been through graduate-level economics training or have otherwise become an economics geek, but it’s absolutely hilarious if you have. (And you should probably not post it on your Facebook profile as a way to get dates.)

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