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Lawyers turned Comedians

Chattering teeth toy

Q: How many lawyer jokes are there?

A: Only three. The rest are true stories.

As a fourth year law student, I’ve come to expect the inevitable lawyer joke when I tell people what I am study. My dad even bought a book of them, and posted individual jokes to me on a daily basis. While lawyer jokes are sometimes a drag, there are plenty of funny lawyers out there, with many law graduates pursuing careers in comedy.

At first glance comedy and the law seem like an odd combination, but there must be something about the land of comedy that entices the legally educated.

Take Charlie Pickering, for example. He enrolled in law, hoping to meet other funny people while at university (much like Monty Python). After graduating and working for a large firm, Charlie decided comedy was his true calling. These days you’ll see him on The Project and Talking About Your Generation.

Speaking of Talking About Your Generation, the show’s host Shaun Micallef, worked as an insurance lawyer for a decade before deciding it wasn’t creative enough and venturing into the big wide world of hilarity. He’s also responsible for the satirical shows Mad as Hell and Newstopia.

Comedian Anh Do is another law graduate who decided on a career change. Anh says he quickly found out that he could make more money doing stand-up for four hours a week than he could working 65 hours a week as a graduate and says that his decision to become a comedian was based on laziness.

And of course if you’re talking law grads and comedy, you can’t leave out The Chaser team. Known for their pranks and political humour, Chas Licciardello, Julian Morrow and Craig Reucassel are all law graduates from the University of Sydney.

It’s a similar story overseas too. The late Greg Giraldo graduated from Harvard Law School and spent eight months as an associate for a New York law firm before opting for a career in stand-up. There’s also Comedians-at-Law, a group of ex-lawyers who banded together to make people laugh. The team decided that the law wasn’t for them and now tour law schools throughout the United States.

Remember Sid Post, the doorman from Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde? The role was played by comedian and law school dropout Bob Newhart.

And last but certainly not least, Monty Python’s John Cleese studied law at Cambridge, long before the Dead Parrot Sketch and the Ministry of Silly Walks hit our screens.

The list of the legal minds that swapped juries for audiences is a long one, and whatever reasons they had for choosing laughter over law, their hilarious jokes make us glad they did.

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