PEP creators and hosts Hattie Jean Hayes and Matt Storrs, doing a little reading.
Last night, I had a surreal law-ish experience. And I recommend it to you on this Change of Venue Friday.
As I sat in the backyard of a downtown Phoenix business (and, I admit it, shivered in the Arizona “cold”), I marveled at the enthusiasm and innovation of the people behind Phoenix Educational Programming. Before you yawn, thinking a new CLE provider is in town, I point out that “PEP” is a performance art troupe. An eye-opening one, at that.
As they describe themselves, “Phoenix Educational Programming presents PEP Rally, a weekly show at Lawn Gnome Publishing that combines academia with the performing arts.”
Yes, the backyard in question was behind Lawn Gnome, a bookstore shoehorned into a vintage bungalow. It’s the real deal.
PEP organizers Hattie Jean Hayes (host) and Matt Storrs (an attorney and the official “fact checker”) continually seek out great topics on which to deliver their PEP spin. Last night was Law, and a parade of speakers (some lawyers) offered their insight on topics such as the Federalist Papers, Jim Crow laws, Tindr, the right to confront your accuser, and the value of paralegals.
It’s law, plus humor, and a heaping dash of holy crap.
All of that is punctuated (like a semi-colon) by the comic riffs of emcees Hayes and Storrs.
Part of their shtick is to insist on an audience sacrifice—an individual who comes on stage and submits to their humorous razzing. They insist that unless someone comes up, they will not proceed with the show.
So, proverbial gun to head, I volunteered. What followed was one of my more fascinating nights in the fascinating place called downtown Phoenix. A cone of silence prevents me from sharing what was said by me or them, but let’s assume it involved recalling juvenile missteps and poor choices of judgment. Maybe I should not have been so forthcoming. But Hattie and Matt give so much, I had to give back.
Y’know. For the kids.
Here are a few photos I took of my inquisitors as I stood onstage (click to biggify).
PEP fact-checker Matt Storrs cross-examines my account, finds it wanting.
As I testify, PEP host Hattie Jean Hayes takes notes, judges me.
In any case, though they may not revisit the topic of Law again anytime soon, I encourage you to seek them out whenever they hold a Rally, which they describe as “Phoenix’s best poets, comedians, storytellers, musicians, academics and performance artists exploring themes in a sometimes educational but always entertaining format!”
If that is not enough, the mantra they have selected for PEP comes from Malcolm X: “Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”
Follow their antics on Facebook and Instagram (@peppics). And have a terrific—and PEP-filled—weekend.