Since 2007 the jobless rate in Ireland has tripled, housing prices have dropped by half, and the country’s credit rating has been downgraded repeatedly.
Enter the comedians. Kilkenomics, billed as Europe’s first economics festival, sold 3,120 tickets to the events at Kilkenny, a city founded in 1207. Kilkenomics’s purpose is to make sense—and light—of all the misery. The idea was for eight comics plus 24 economists, journalists, and bloggers, to “simplify the big ideas and make them more accessible,” according to the festival brochure. Seminar topics ranged from the predictable—“What is the future of the euro?”—to the potentially more useful—“What the hell is happening right now?” The only rule seemed to be that the comics had to dress like economists and the economists had to dress like comedians. Ex-Argentine Economy and Production Minister Martín Lousteau made a deep impression with his backpacker look.