#FridayFollow – The World’s First Stand-Up Economist
September 07, 2018
Interview with Yoram Bauman
Yoram Bauman, in short, is an economist. However, he’s not just an economist. Yoram is an economist who also does stand-up comedy…about economics. Whether he is discussing economics, calculus, or even climate change, Yoram has the unique ability to take an often serious topic and makes it light, fun, and relatable.
AFCPE: What inspired you to pursue this work?
Yoram: When I was in graduate school getting my PhD in economics, I blew off some steam by writing a parody of the “ten principles of economics” in a popular textbook. It ended up getting published in a science humor journal called the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), and after presented my “paper” in the AIR humor session at a science conference I got into stand-up comedy as a hobby. Then when I finished my PhD two things happened: my academic career didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped, and I put a comedy video up on YouTube that got a million hits. Colleges and companies started asking me to entertain them, and ten years later here I am!
AFCPE: What’s the best part about being a stand-up economist?
Yoram: Making people laugh is great. Making a daunting subject like economics accessible to more people is rewarding. And when I’m asked for my occupation on tax forms or customs documents, writing “stand-up economist” is pretty darn cool! (Customs officers are sometimes a little skeptical, but my business card and my website usually convince them that my “supply side world tour” is a legitimate business activity.)
AFCPE: Is there anything new that you’re working on that has you excited?
Yoram: I’ve been playing around with a new comedy routine about moving from Seattle to Salt Lake City. (After 20 years in Seattle we moved to be closer to my wife’s family, plus it was probably good for me to get a change of scenery after spearheading a revenue-neutral carbon tax ballot measure in Washington State that lost, in November 2016, in part because of opposition from the Sierra Club and others on the “environmental left”. But that’s another story!) Also, my co-author Grady Klein and I are finishing up our Cartoon Introduction to Calculus—forthcoming in 2019—plus a cartoon pamphlet about data privacy ethics that was commissioned by the European Union.
AFCPE: Amazing! As an #AFCPE18 keynote speaker, what are you looking forward to the most about attending the Symposium?
Yoram: My co-author and I have talked about writing a cartoon book about personal finance, so I’m excited to get feedback from attendees about whether that would be a worthwhile project. If the supply side of that market is already filled then that’s fine, but if not then I’d love to hear more about what topics should be on the “laundry list” for a book like that... and to get story ideas that can turn that laundry list into an engaging narrative.
Yoram answers the Friday 5:
- My Why: Because comedy is a great way to connect with people.
- My Favorite Quote: A tie between Winston Churchill (“Democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”) and Alexander Pope (“Hope springs eternal”).
- My Heroes: Tom Lehrer, Rachel Carson, Frederick Douglass.
- My Favorite Personal Finance Resource: Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin (and also the Vanguard website :).
- My best advice: If you are in a position to do so, choose the path of adventure!
- For someone starting the journey to financial well-being: Try to avoid high-interest rates and high fund management fees, i.e., don’t get into credit card debt but do invest in low-cost index funds.
You can follow Yoram:
Website: www.standupeconomist.com. (Be sure to sign up for his quarterly emails.)