It’s been a long week. Time for a laugh.

Scott Rose of the Cavanagh Law Firm, Phoenix

Scott Rose

I’ve been offering you arts-related content this week (e.g., here), and today I remind you of an event that honors the art of the wisecrack: the Second Annual “John J. O’Connor Phoenix Rotary 100 Humor Contest.”

The event will be on Friday, February 1, at noon, and is sponsored by the Phoenix Rotary 100. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will be the guest of the Club that day. As lawyer and emcee Scott Rose has described Justice O’Connor’s husband John, “He was a great lawyer, quite the raconteur and President of our Club in 1977-78.”

I wrote about last year’s inaugural event; you can read “Try the Veal, Tip Your Lawyer” here.

Some additional photos from that event are here, on the magazine’s Facebook page.

John J. O'Connor Humor Contest finalists with Sandra Day O'Connor, Oct. 2012

2012 contest finalists and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. L to R: Ryan Nelson, Matt Shorrs, Justice O’Connor, Jodi Weisberg (first place), Trevor Cox and Bob Howard

The important thing to note now, today, is that there is a deadline approaching for those among you who think you’ve got what it takes, comedically. You have two weeks to complete the application, available here. Of course, if you have hilarious friends, feel free to pass this on.

Don’t delay. Applications should be in as soon as possible because there will be preliminary judging on January 24 at the Phoenix Country Club. And as Scott says, acts “can be 3 – 6 minutes of classic stand-up comedy, funny stories, war stories, humorous anecdotes or whatever they choose.”

Prizes? Yes, there are prizes: $2,500, $1,500 and $500 to the top three contestants. And $2,000 will be paid to each of ASU, UofA and Phoenix School of Law on a rotating basis (ASU being the recipient this year).

If you’ve got the chops, it’s time to trot them out to an appreciative public. Fellow lawyers look forward to laughing along with you.

Have a great weekend.

John and Sandra Day O'Connor in their Paradise Valley home (undated photo)

John and Sandra Day O’Connor in their Paradise Valley home (undated photo). (Click for Arizona Attorney Magazine story.)

Finalists and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. L to R: Ryan Nelson, Matt Storrs, Justice O'Connor, Jodi Weisberg (first place), Trevor Cox and Bob Howard

Lawyer jokes rarely sit well with the profession, and for good reason: Those jibes are often mean-spirited and, worse, inaccurate.

But an event last week turned that rubric on its head. The John J. O’Connor Humor Competition offered up some of the funniest people in the profession, all for a good cause.

It was held at the monthly meeting of the Phoenix Rotary 100, generous and gracious hosts. And as you may have guessed by the event title, the effort is founded on a legal legacy.

John O’Connor contributed much to the profession and to the Rotary, as well as to his community and family. He and his wife, Sandra Day O’Connor, made a huge impact on the state.

Jodi Weisberg

Given that impact, it is not surprising that friends of the family asked the O’Connors what they could do to commemorate John’s life—a scholarship, an annual lecture?

What was surprising was the O’Connor family response: Let’s integrate some comedy to recognize John’s love of humor.

And so the competition idea was born. Winners would receive real dough–$3,000 for 1st place down to $500 to 4th place, all of which was to be funneled back to law students or law schools.

Specially selected comedy judges culled the group of applicants to a manageable number. And then on October 14, the final five lawyers and law students strode up to the stage and offered their best three to six minutes of comedy. To add to their pressure of playing in front of a full house, Justice O’Connor herself kindly attended (and she smiled and laughed occasionally, too!).

Lawyer Scott Rose outdid himself as emcee—he should have gotten a little of the winner’s purse himself!

(Thank you to UA Law’s Nancy Stanley, who got me a ticket to the event and who served as a pretty humorous lunch partner herself!)

To capture the day’s spirit, I will share the best joke or two from each finalist. That determination was made by me, based on my own laughable comedy standards—and the room’s response that day. Complaints or disagreements should be sent to the appropriate department.

In reverse order:

Fifth Place: Ryan Nelson, 3L at Phoenix School of Law

  • As the school year goes on, law school gets to be a more and more competitive place. In fact, you’re more likely to find Moammar Quaddafi in the library than a copy of the 2011 Probate Statute Book.

Fourth Place: Trevor Cox, 1L at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University

  • I’m a law student, so naturally I’m here because I smelled lunch.
  • Benjamin Franklin said the only thing more expensive than education is ignorance. Clearly he never went to law school.

Third Place: Matt Storrs, 1L at Phoenix School of Law

  • My mom told me that God never gives us anything we can’t handle. He must have a blind spot when it comes to mortgages.

Second Place: Bob Howard, lawyer at Jekel, Howard & Thomas, Scottsdale

  • My practice is in divorce, or, as I call it, anti-family law.
  • There are two marital statuses: single and pre-divorce.

First Place: Jodi Weisberg, Solo practitioner, Phoenix

  • As I get older, I find I care so much less about so much more.
  • When I was growing up, if I had ever told my parents I had googled myself or someone else, I would have been in big trouble.
  • When I was 7, my brother told me I was adopted. I asked my mom, who said, “Yes, dear, it’s true. But they returned you.”
  • Despite what you may have heard, women lawyers don’t now and have never suffered from subpoena envy.

Congratulations to all those who took part in this fantastic event.

More photos from the event are at the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.