By Chad Abshire

There’s a sack of money on a stool next to a podium. Fittingly enough, the song being played is “I Will Buy You a New Life.”As part of New Student Days at Eastern, all freshmen were to attend Funny Money, a lecture by James Cunningham, on Thursday, Aug. 26 in Brock Auditorium.

“Broke people make some noise!” Cunningham yelled to the crowd.

They clapped and yelled, making it known that many attendees had empty pockets.

Then Cunningham asked something that made no one clap.

“Why are you broke?”

Cunningham came to Eastern to teach first-year students three important points about money. First, know your flow–budget properly and learn your cash flow. Second, control what you owe and use your credit cards wisely. And finally, invest some dough. Stop buying things that don’t increase in value.

Students can’t reach the third step without having learned the first two steps, Cunningham said.

Cunningham discussed in-depth each point and often called out for volunteers to participate. Those who volunteered got paid based on what they had to do.

One lucky volunteer won $100 for dancing the best, outlasting six other contestants in a “financial dance contest.” This contest was based on moves from the three points Cunningham had taught and then recited into the microphone.

After the lecture, Cunningham seemed pleased with how it went.

“Good show, good participation,” he said. “EKU? It rocks.”

Cunningham said he always was “financially savvy.” He got his start with Funny Money by making jokes about starving students at college pubs. After shows, people would say they related to it. Cunningham would then help them budget on cocktail napkins.

“Blend humor with serious messaging,” Cunningham said. “[That’s the] whole point behind it.”

Cunningham, who is based out of Toronto, performs nearly 250 shows of Funny Money per year and has been to Eastern five times.

“Demand is huge,” he said.

But despite the show’s name and success, he’s not in it for the money.

“I won’t do shows if there is an admission fee,” Cunningham said. “It’s knowledge-based.”

Cunningham can be found online at facebook.com/funnymoneyman and at twitter.com/funnymoneyman.