More evidence that the recovery is at hand: the Laugh Factory economic index.

For the past year and a half, owner Jamie Masada has offered anyone out of a job free admission to any show Monday through Thursday at his Sunset Strip club, which features headliners such as Paul Rodriguez, Kevin Nealon, Tom Arnold and Tim Allen.

And now, by Masada’s barometer, the recovery is under way.

“There were times we got 40 or 50 people at once,” he said. “Now it’s 15 to 20 in a week. You see that people are getting jobs.”

The free shows are offered at both the Sunset Strip club and the Laugh Factory in Long Beach.

You might think the jobless are in no mood to laugh, but that’s not so, Masada said on a recent day inside his memorabilia-filled office at the Hollywood club.

“Some of them are so down and they really open up,” he said. “You see the laughter really coming from the heart. It’s like a weight lifted and a lot of times it gives them energy to regroup and look for a job.”

Masada estimated that more than 1,000 people have taken advantage of the free laughs.

To get in free, patrons must show their ID and matching proof that they’re out of work, such as an unemployment check stub. A weekday show normally costs $20 plus a two-drink minimum. The unemployed person not only gets a free show but a free drink.

Comic Tom Dreesen nominated Masada for the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for his many humanitarian efforts, which include hosting a comedy camp for underprivileged kids, and organizing charity events for the American Red Cross, the USO and other groups.

“He came to this country and started that place on a shoestring,” Dreesen said. “I’ve always known him to give so much back. He’s the most benevolent club owner in America.”

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