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Is it possible that in the right hands the dreaded lawyer joke might not be so bad? We will soon find out. The Manhattan comedy club Stand-Up New York has set June 28 as the date for the first round of its “Funniest Lawyer Contest.” The club’s motto for the competition: “You may not get your own TV sitcom … but you never can tell.” The contest, which began in 1990, typically draws about 30 lawyers who perform five to six minutes of material on one of three nights for the right to advance to the Grand Finals. The ultimate winner receives a one-night paid booking at Stand-Up New York. Past judges of the competition have included matrimonial lawyer Raoul Felder and litigator Darnay Hoffman, who was accompanied to the contest by his wife, the former “Mayflower Madam” Sidney Biddle Barrows, and his former client Bernhard Goetz. Whether this year’s edition will produce that sort of star power is uncertain, but among the contestants will be Julian Kaufman, a landlord-tenant lawyer in the Bronx who boasts of having gone head-to-head with Jerry Seinfeld when the two shared a class in comedy during their days at Queens College. Mr. Kaufman, who performed at comedy clubs like Catch A Rising Star in the mid-’70s before becoming a lawyer, said his routine has a fair proportion of “groaners,” like the one about the contracts lawyer who had a “breach” baby. He also tells audiences that he is missing a CLE class in ethics to perform for them … but that he paid a guy $10 to take it for him. Also scheduled to perform is Stuart Altman, a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney on Staten Island who has taken the stage recently at clubs like the Improv and the Comic Strip, where he has run into a surprising number of lawyers performing. “I guess maybe they gotta vent from listening to clients all day,” he said. Mr. Altman also said that his practice brings him into situations so funny that when he turns them into jokes, people are convinced he made them up. But asked for a sneak preview of his routine, Mr. Altman opted to play it close to the vest. “We’ll have to wait for the contest,” he said.

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