I don’t want to start this post by dissing lawyers.
The poor souls attract enough heat already – enough to warm the marble-tiled swimming pools in their waterfront estates. So I’ll let someone else do it:
Some of the best-loved comedians on the planet are law graduates. Ironic, given lawyers have been fodder for comedy since the fifteenth century:
Diogenes took a lantern and said he was going in search of an honest lawyer. “How’s it going?” he was asked the following day. “Not too bad,” Diogenes replied. “I still have my lantern.
So forthwith, I will attempt to explain:
- reasons for the lawyer-come-comedian – or “law-medy” – phenomenon,
- why it’s such a good thing for the events industry, and
- how you can get incredible event ROI using ex-lawyer comedians.
Why is law school the perfect place to start a comedy career?
Getting through law school is no walk in the park – it takes hard work, a thick skin and dogged perseverance. The 3am study sessions, nerve-wracking exams and risk being cut down to size by peers in mock trials (or the front lobby), they all take their toll.The pay's rubbish, but the perks are terrible! What's the deal with lawyers becoming comedians? Click To Tweet
When you think about it, comedy is just as cut-throat. They have to always re-write material, survive the inevitable flop performances and harsh critics, hecklers and yes, occasional boos, all while quashing those niggles of self-doubt into a small black ball in the pit of their stomach.
A comedian’s neck is always on the line in the world of comedy until they get their big break.
Then stuff gets real.
A Grisham novel it is not
Welcome to the young lawyer’s dilema. Once she gets into a law firm and the real world, she works mega hours on inane and repetitive tasks. Somewhere inside there’s a little comedian jumping up and down, crying to be heard.
She yearns to do more of the fun stuff. To use her brain creatively. After all, she’s acquired a taste for the limelight in University Revues, just like John Cleese did at the Cambridge Footlights Dramatic Club.
It’s usually about now the disillusioned lawyer takes a leap into comedy. Then pray for a soft landing.
Frying Pan, Meet Fire.
Ditching law for comedy might seem a bit like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Why trade in a tough career in law for a gig that may not pay enough for a week’s rent?
Question: How many lawyer jokes are there?
Answer: Just three. All the rest are true.
Now, a fancy chart
Just like lawyers, comedians are a pretty clever bunch. Our intrepid team compared the tricks – erm, I mean skills, of the typical lawyer versus the typical comedian.Lawyers vs Comedians. #nerdfight Click To Tweet
Our results show them to be rather similar in this pretty chart I made*. You’re welcome.
|The Lawyer Trick||How It’s Used in Comedy|
|Analytic ability||They’ll deep-dive until they find the right angle to crack you up – as opposed to suing you. Like lining up to buy your morning coffee, which they see from a different (usually hilarious) point of view.|
|Attention to ||The comedic world thrives on the finer points. Whether it’s in prepared material or witty, off-the-cuff comebacks, it’s all about detail.|
|Using logic||A nifty tool comedians use to convince you of a ridiculous premise like ‘kids should stay home from school if they want to’. Before you know it, you agree! You’re laughing, and there are no outrageous bills to pay.|
|Persuasion||Mind tricks. Lawyers need to convince a judge and jury, and comedians want us to see the world through their comic eyes. Persuasion is at the core of what they do!|
|Sound judgement||On stage, a comedian reads an audience on-the-fly, then adjusts their material and timing of delivery. Because even a great joke poorly-timed will fall flat.|
|Writing ability||They is good with the words. Many bright students gravitate to law because they are good writers. Comedians have a way with words – for writing comic material as well as performing it. They’ll use a creative mix of words that have us LOL’ing.|
Lawyers subjugate the Oz comedy circuit
Heh. Subjugate. It’s fancy lawyer-speak for totally rule.
But it’s true – some of the biggest names in Oz comedy today started out in the backroom of a law office, trawling through 3000+ page documents:
Libbi Gorr aka Elle McFeast did Law at University of Melbourne, as did Logie and AFI winner Steve Vizard during his career as comedian/ writer/ producer/ talk-show guy.
Jane Turner aka Kath Knight trained in law at Monash University and, by the way, is now married a foxy lawyer. It’s noice, it’s different, it’s unusual…
The Chaser‘s Dom Knight, Craig Reucassell, Chas Licciardello and Julian Morrow drew heavily on their law backgrounds to craft their unmistakable style of witty political satire.
A couple of lawyers who’ve made the bold move into comedy of late – a great choice for corporate events – are:Anh Do uses his rich and varied life experiences to create and customise material for corporate audiences. No wonder he’s one of Australia’s most fascinating and multi-talented comedians!
Charlie Pickering threw in the legal towel for a career in stand-up comedy, became a household name on The Project and more recently, The Weekly with Charlie Pickering.
Plenty of Aussie comedy’s rising stars are law grads! You can check them out at the 2017 Sydney and Melbourne International Comedy Festivals:
Josh Glanc‘s debut show ’99 SCHNITZELS’ was a cult smash hit last year. It sold out Melbourne Comedy Festival and saw Glanc labelled one of comedy’s most exciting “emerging talents” by The Age.
Alice Fraser – after touring the world to sold out seasons and universal critical acclaim with her 2015 and 2016 festival shows, Alice is back in Australia with a brand-new hour of reliably silly, unpredictably meaningful, narratively unorthodox and artful comedy.
James Smith had a killer set on CONAN (watch it here). His Jokes for the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber were published in Time & People Magazines. He’s a favourite at the Comedy Cellar in New York and he has appeared numerous times at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal.
Rise of the law-median
It’s no wonder the events industry has an infatuation with law-medians. They’re witty, great with words, persuasive and adaptable. This is great news for event managers!Law-median: a comedian who gave up lucrative law career to survive on late-night kebabs. Click To Tweet
Law-medians will happily change material to suit your audience: they’ll tone down language where necessary, even adapt content so your message gets across with full impact. Why should your event miss out on the benefits of laughter, or your audience miss out on the joys of great comedy?
While any speaker bureau worth their salt will recommend a comedian to fit your audience, it’s good event management practice to understand the thinking behind the scenes.
There’s no shortage of talented comedians who’ve crossed over from the ‘dark side.’ It’s great news for event managers looking for their next knock-the-audience-socks-off entertainer! More, please!Rise of the Law-medians: Law students who drop out to become #comedians. Click To Tweet
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- Why do lawyers drop our to become comedians anyway? learn why in Four Ex-Lawyer Comedians, Three Simple Questions.
- Want to hire a comedian? Use our handy guide to Australian comedians to book the perfect one!
- Download our event run sheet template and be one step closer to managing your events like a seasoned professional!
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