MedicoreFilms — Free Hugs

My students favorite clip when discussing product differentiation is this clip from MedicoreFilms where a guy offers Deluxe Hugs for $2 more. One of his opening lines best illustrates the concept of monopolistic competition:

Deluxe guy: How’s businesses?

Free guy: Mine are free, this isn’t a business.

Deluxe guy: Different people want different stuff, so it’s cool.

Businesses can differentiate their products by quality, style, location, etc. The guy offering deluxe hugs is trying to fill a portion of the market from people willing to pay more for “better” hugs.

Ryan Hamilton — Canceling a Gym Membership

Ryan goes through the steps he had to complete in order to cancel his gym membership. By requiring all of the additional steps to opt out of the membership, it decreases the likelihood that individuals will actually cancel their membership and instead pay the monthly fee despite not wanting the service. Ryan even discusses how he’s fallen victim to the sunk cost fallacy because he walked by his gym on the way to purchase envelopes for the letter, but he was already “in too deep” to stop by and cancel in person.

Adam Ruins Everything — Unemployment Rate

Adam reviews the requirements for individuals to be considered unemployment under the most traditional classification of unemployment (U3). While he mentions that this isn’t a perfect measure, he doesn’t mention the other types of unemployment. This could be a good introduction to the different types of unemployment counted by the BLS.

Mitch Hedberg — Comparative Advantage in Comedy

Mitch Hedberg has spent a lot of time becoming a good comedian, but as soon as he gets to Hollywood, people start asking him to do other things that he isn’t (comparatively) good at like acting or writing. He compares this to spending time becoming a great cook and then being asked if you could farm. People should specialize in what they have a comparative advantage in and if Mitch Hedberg spent is time writing or acting then he’d be giving up a lot of income as a good comedian.

You can see the full clip on Comedy Central.

Extremely Decent — First Honest Cable Company

When a firm has monopoly power, they have the ability to charge higher prices for a reduce quantity (and sometimes quality) service. If consumers don’t have alternatives then they are forced to deal with poor customer service and unreliability. This comedy piece highlights a fictions cable company that actually admits they aren’t very good.

College Humor — Apartment Hunting is the Worst (NSFW)

This comedy series shows a series of examples of associated with price ceilings for apartments in New York City. It shows not only the predictably inefficiently low quality of these apartments, but also the wasted resources that are involved when there is a shortage of apartments.

Louis CK — If Murder Were Legal

Louis CK works through the rational model of crime by Becker and why he’s happy that there are laws against murdering people. This clips would be great for a behavioral economics course or maybe a funny introduction to principles to talk about incentives, externalities, and public policy.

Wanda Sykes — Insider Trading

Wanda discusses insider trading in her comedy bit and notes that everyone participates in some form of insider trading. While Martha Stewart may have been sent to jail for insider trading, her cousin who works at Walmart will call her and tell her not to buy certain products because they’ll go on sale next week.

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