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JOKE-STARVED NOT GETTING MONEY'S MIRTH.

Byline: Dave McNary Daily News Staff Writer

We're paying bigger bucks for smaller yucks, if you believe the 3 percent increase in the 1998 Cost of Laughing Index.

The rise in the index, which also increased 3 percent last year, reflects a $346 increase in the minimum fee for sitcom writing to $11,891. Luckily, the price for Groucho glasses remained steady at $15 per dozen, an attorney-turned-humor consultant reported Thursday.

``A 3 percent increase is no laughing matter,'' said Malcolm Kushner, who developed the index a dozen years ago for release near April Fools' Day.

The index consists of 17 humor indicators, including admission prices to 10 comedy clubs across the country, Mad magazine's newsstand price ($2.50) and a dozen rubber chickens ($66). The only indicators to rise besides the sitcom fee were the admissions to Chicago's Second City club, which rose 50 cents to $16.50, and Atlanta's Punch Line, up from $14 to $15.

``The fact that most prices haven't risen is a result of natural market farces,'' Kushner said. ``If you can laugh for free at the Monica Lewinsky spectacle, you don't need to buy a rubber chicken.''

Kushner uses the index to draw attention to his Santa Cruz-based consulting business, under which he gives speeches to corporations and associations on how to use humor as a communications tool. He recommends that business people not feel obliged to tell jokes, but rather use humor to illustrate a point and make the audience more willing to listen.

One of Kushner's recent favorite lines: ``Turning a company around doesn't mean making it go in circles.''

Kushner is also the author of ``Successful Presentations for Dummies,'' part of the IDG Books series, and the ``Well, There You Go Again - the Humor that Shaped America'' CD-ROMs and cassettes based on the humor of President Reagan.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Mar 27, 1998
Words:306
Previous Article:IN BRIEF.
Next Article:BUSINESS PARK SET TO BUILD; DEMAND HIGH IN CHATSWORTH.


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