Nothing Is Funnier Than a Ten-Percent Joke

[Lenny] Gilleo, who has cut the hair of the past five Fed chairmen, says there is no fixed price at his barbershop. Payment is a “whatever-you-choose type of thing.” If this principle were applied broadly across the American economy, chaos would ensue. Actually, this principle was put into practice already, during the years leading up to the subprime-mortgage crisis.

Ba-dum! Jokes about the economy are so great, especially when you (when I) understand them. (My friend Matt calls these “ten-percent jokes,” because he estimates only ten percent of the population “get” them, resulting in a smugness that renders them funnier than they actually are.) This one comes courtesy of The Atlantic’s Jefferey Goldberg, who tracked down the dude who cuts Ben Bernanke’s hair after a letter writer inquired about the Fed chairman’s perfectly groomed beard (that might be more of a twenty-percent joke, as it’s fairly common knowledge that he does have a perfect beard).

Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal (I always pictured him as a Ken Doll, but he’s not, check Google. Also: Jokes about NPR hosts are the ultimate in ten-percent jokes ) followed up with Gilleo in this delightful phone interview, in which he confirms that Gilleo actually does have a little barbershop inside the Federal Reserve! But here’s the best bit:

Gilleo: I am a sole proprietorship, and I do pay rent on this space. The Fed doesn’t give me anything.

Ryssdal: No, come on, really?

Gilleo: Yeah. I don’t want a congressional hearing because of the damn space that you’re giving away.

Congressional hearings! Hilarious! No word on what Bernanke offers up for his tri-weekly beard and hair trim (maybe if I knew more about him I could make up my own ten-percent joke here, but unfortunately my knowledge of Bernanke starts and stops with his beard).

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