The annual New Jersey State Bar Association Pro Bono Conference is typically event to honor and recognize the value of attorneys who volunteer in their communities to help people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. This year’s event, scheduled for Oct. 29, is no different, but it comes with a twist – a stand-up comedy performance by Comedians at Law as a way to thank those people who give so much to others.
Comedy troop founder Kevin Israel, who is based in Monmouth County, recently spoke about the intersection of comedy and the law.
Q: How did the troop get started?
A: I have been doing stand-up comedy for about 12 years. I got my law degree in 2009. Then, around three years ago I connected with Alex Barnett, another of the founding members, and we realized we were both lawyers as well as stand-up comedians. We thought we could do shows at law firms and law schools. Right now, there are six of us in the troop. We all found each other through comedy. All our members are lawyers. That’s the only requirement to be in the group, and it helps if you are funny.
Q: How do comedy and the law mix?
A: Strangely enough there are a lot of lawyers in comedy. It’s not as strange of an animal as it sounds. To be a stand-up comic, it takes a lot of intelligence and critical thinking. You have to be comfortable in front of people, fast on your feet. A lot of it is skill that you get from the law. While the humor might not seem to carry over, thre are a lot of basic skills are in common. There is just something about the mind of a lawyer and a comedian that meshes.
Q: Is this a full-time gig?
A: No. One member is retired. Another is in the entertainment industry. One member just graduated law school and is looking for a job. I have a full-time position. We do have a member who does actual legal work.
Q: What is your show like?
A: Typically we do about an hour show. It’s stand up-comedy with two or three comics. Each of us has some content that is legal based. Each of us talks about our experiences with the law. We are bringing the audience a new concept of ‘Look what we’re doing with our law degrees.’