Comedians at Law logo

Get ready for your briefs to get in a bunch: Comedians at Law are coming to town again.

Next Wednesday, March 23, you have the opportunity to laugh along with—or at, I suppose—a group of on-stage attorneys.

Comedians at Law will appear that evening at StandUpLive in downtown Phoenix. I’ve seen members of this crew before, and yuks both legal and illegal are guaranteed. (That’s all to the good, I assure you.)

If the promise of legal humor is not enough (say it ain’t so!), how does a promo code make you feel? That’s right, merely use the promo code LAWYER to get $5 off.

No joke.

Matt Ritter

Matt Ritter

The headliner, it appears, is Matt Ritter:

“Matt Ritter recently traded big law for the big stage. He graduated from the University Pennsylvania Law School and worked as a corporate lawyer at both Kirkland and Ellis and Mayer Brown before leaving the law to pursue a career in entertainment.”

Years ago, I worked at Mayer Brown—before I was a lawyer (don’t ask)—so I have to suspect that Matt’s comedy comes from a very deep-seated pain; I know mine does. (Let it out, Matt!)

Also appearing that evening will be a few local legal favorites: Matt Storrs, Nancy Stanley, and Bob Howard.

I’ve covered these legal comedians before, here and here, for instance. And Matt Storrs has been tearing up the downtown Phoenix comedy scene via his work on The Storrs Objection and the Phoenix Educational Programming (P.E.P.) Rally, co-hosted by the irrepressible Hattie Jean Hayes.

Matt also appears pretty regularly on the stage of Space 55, a theatre whose board I’m pleased to serve on.

Matt Storrs

Matt Storrs (who really can afford a better picture!)

Meanwhile, Nancy Stanley’s day job is within the hallowed halls of a prominent Arizona law school (an assistant DEAN, for god’s sake). So, just like Matt Ritter, cue the deep-seated pain. If you see Nancy, before or after her set, buy her a drink, wouldja?

Nancy Stanley

Nancy Stanley

I hope to be there next Wednesday, laughing along with the comics. Remember: Buy your tickets here, promo code LAWYER.

PEP creators and hosts Hattie Jean Hayes and Matt Storrs, doing a little reading.

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.”

Lawn Gnome Publishing imageYes, 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).

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.”

Edgy, that.

Follow their antics on Facebook and Instagram (@peppics). And have a terrific—and PEP-filled—weekend.

PEP Rally Law

Jodi Weisberg delivers the humorous goods at the 2015 lawyer-comedy competition (photo by Ruth Howe, Rotary).

Jodi Weisberg delivers the humorous goods at the 2015 lawyer-comedy competition (photo by Ruth Howe, Rotary).

I’m happy to report out the following news I received about an annual lawyer-comedy competition. (No, not comedy about lawyers; comedy by lawyers.)

In the past I’ve written about this annual competition. You can read my coverage here and here.

Congratulations to Jodi Weisberg, Bob Howard, and Matt Storrs.

Jodi Weisberg won the 2015 annual John O’Connor Comedy Competition. She is the only two-time winner of this contest, which began in 2011. She has been performing stand-up comedy for more than a decade.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and the Rotary 100 Club, began this competition in honor of John O’Connor, who had a wonderful sense of humor, and was a past President of the Rotary 100 Club.

“It is always such an honor and a thrill to perform for Justice O’Connor and her family,” said Weisberg. “It is a wonderful feeling to make her laugh!”

Weisberg won the competition in 2011, was a judge in 2012, and not allowed to compete in 2013-14. She was invited to perform this year. Bob Howard placed second, and Matt Storrs took third place.

First place prize was $2,500, and Rotary donated $2,000 to the University of Arizona, where Weisberg received her M.S. and J.D. degrees.

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)

Comedians at Law logo

They’re in town Jan. 30.

Note: This post was updated to reflect the fact that on January 24 organizers consolidated two shows into one. The show at the Tempe Improv was consolidated into the Stand Up Live show on Thursday. All Tempe tickets will work in Downtown.

As I’ve said before, lawyers make me laugh. And occasionally, that’s their goal.

Next week, you and I have the opportunity to see that second kind of attorney—the intentionally funny ones. That’s when a slate of talented lawyer–comedians take the stage at Stand-Up Live in Phoenix.

So let me start by saying you should buy tickets (no, no one paid me to say that). Click the link above to get to the ticket page. And when you get to the payment page, adding the word LAWYER to the promo code box gets you half off (did you hear me? Half off!).

I plan to be at the Phoenix event (yes, I paid for my own ticket), and I’m looking forward to it. As you may know, I have a rich and Borscht Belt history of admiring comedians. Here is a post I wrote about a local competition of attorney–comics.

Next week’s events include the comic genius (or at least idiot-savant-ness) of attorneys Bob Howard, Nancy Stanley and Matt Storrs. They will follow the headliner, Matt Ritter.

Their joint efforts are part of what’s called Comedians at Law, self-described here:

“Because of their passion for comedy and their desperate desire not to practice law, the Comedians at Law joined together to travel the country, deliver their diverse and intelligent brand of humor, and entertain audiences at law schools, bar associations, law firms, comedy clubs and anyone else willing to cut a check that can be used to pay down their student loans.”

“The reaction has been overwhelming. Comedians at Law are in demand, and members of Comedians at Law have appeared on Fox News “On the Record,” CBS, Sirius/XM’s “Raw Dog” Comedy (as guests and as guest-hosts of their morning program), and in The Wall Street Journal and CNN.com. Comedians at Law: Good at Law. Better at Comedy.”

Want to see more? Here is a video about those legal humorists.

So who’s with me? If you plan to be at the Phoenix event, let me know. It’d be nice to meet others who like to laugh at lawyers (in a good way!).

Tonight—TONIGHT, y’understand!—a troupe of lawyers will try to make you laugh. On purpose, rather than the other by-accident kind of way.

At a downtown Phoenix comedy club, the lawyers of Comedians at Law will aim to find the humor in your legal life, your livelihood, and everything you may hold dear. And there’ll be drinks. Here is a description from their publicity material:

“In 2011 six attorneys with backgrounds in government, politics, private practice and business got together to form a business that relied on their collective expertise. But when Strippers-At-Law was a miserable failure they realized, fortunately, that they were also all stand-up comedians. With that realization, Comedians at Law was born. C-section.  Because six grown men would have been a very difficult natural birth.

(click for larger version)

“Combining their diverse and intelligent brand of humor with a desperate desire not to practice law, Comedians at Law has travelled the country entertaining law schools, comedy clubs and anywhere else with someone willing to cut a check towards six sets of student loans. 

“The group’s six members represent a cross section of law and comedy, but what they all share in common is an unbreakable bond of having disappointed all of their parents. Members of Comedians at Law have appeared on CBS, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Fox and CNN.”

More information and tickets are here.

And here is the troupe’s own website (and yes, they’ve got merch they want to move). They’re even on Facebook and Twitter.

I’m pleased to see some attorney comics on the scene. It was just last fall that the inaugural John J. O’Connor Humor Competition was launched (read about it here). And according to tweets from Comedians at Law, one of that event’s comics—Phoenix School of Law student Matt Storrs—will share a mike for part of tonight’s show.

Curious how to get there? Here’s a map:

I leave to you, dear reader, to determine whether it is truly “comedy so good it should be illegal.” But I did feel waves of familiarity wash over me when I read their tagline: “Bad at Law. Good at Comedy.”

If you go, let me know if you agree.