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Ha! The Rubber Chicken Economy Is Booming

Grace Clementine | Photodisc | Getty Images

Prices bottomed out on everything during the recession, from homes to new cars, but now everything seems to be on an upswing, including the price of a good laugh.

The Cost of Laughing Index, which includes everything from rubber-chicken prices to comedy-club admission, rose 1.7 percent in 2013 from a year ago, according to Malcom Kushner, a lawyer-turned-humor consultant who compiles the index.

That was largely due to an 8-percent jump in rubber-chicken prices and an 11-percent increase in the cost of whoopee cushions.

Whoooooboy!

The wholesale price for a dozen rubber chickens is now $84, nearly double the $43.20 when Kushner started compiling the index in 1987.

That may leave you grumbling like an old man about everyone wanting more of your money, but Kushner said it's a good sign for the economy.

"Although rubber chickens and whoopee cushions are used within discretion, they are purchased with income that's discretionary. So, higher prices means there's more demand for this stuff," said Kushner.

The index is composed of 16 humor indicators, such as the price of admission to comedy clubs in 10 U.S. cities, rubber chickens, Groucho glasses, whoopee cushions, an issue of Mad magazine, a funny singing telegram and the fee for writing a sitcom.

Groucho glasses actually went down a buck to $8 a dozen, while the price of MAD magazine and singing telegrams (both pink gorilla and dancing chicken) remained the same.

Couches across America are filling up with people looking for a little comic relief: The price for writing a half-hour sitcom increased 1.7 percent to $17,045.

Going out for a night of comedy is more of a commitment than rubber chickens or sitting on your couch, but there's great news: signs of life in the audience. The price of comedy-club admission went up in four cities—Houston, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Comics are holding their own in Atlanta, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Seattle, where prices held steady, but they're still hearing crickets in Indianapolis and New York, where the price of admission to a comedy club actually went down.

So, a rubber chicken, a Groucho impersonator and a singing pink gorilla walk into a bar. Have you heard this one before?!

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Contact Pony Blog

  • Cindy Perman is a writer at CNBC.com, covering jobs, real estate, retirement and personal finance.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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