What’s the difference between a lawyer and a Spanish bull?*

David Rose

When my producer approached me about writing a piece for New Lawyer Language, I wasn’t quite sure what to say.

“Do you want to write an article about performing comedy and the law?”, she said.

Write about law? Sure, why not? Anything to take my mind off studying law. I love it, but it’s a little bit like watching a documentary about global warming. After a while, you need to take a break, drink some tea, and tell your relatives that you love them.

A friend once explained to me that the legal industry breaks down into two groups. The first group are born-to-be lawyers; they’re smart, they’re dedicated, they work overtime, and they’re absolutely no fun at dinner parties. These are people who begin sentences with “well, as a lawyer…”, as the rest of the party rolls their eyes and sharpens their cutlery under the table.

The second group, my friend explained, are frustrated performers. In many ways, the two groups are very similar. They’re both intelligent, hardworking, and persevering. They both work long hours. But only one of them starts a theatre company in their spare time. Which is what the team at BottledSnail Productions did.

BottledSnail Productions has – aside from one of the funniest names in legal history – an incredible group of people working behind the scenes. The company started as a way to give those frustrated performers an outlet, so that their sharp legal minds didn’t melt into mush. I have to say that their output has been extremely impressive. They’re produced everything from two law revues, to a one man sketch show, to a full-blown musical, to… well, to me. More specifically, “us”. This year, my friend Michael Shafar (a law graduate) and I are performing stand-up comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Our show is called ‘Outsiders’, mainly because we took our promotional photos outside. I know, we are masters of nuance.

The show is based on our experiences as law students, as individuals, and as precocious political pundits. It’s been a great opportunity for us. You don’t get very many opportunities to perform stand-up for longer than 10 minutes unless you’re a professional comedian. And how do you become a professional? You start performing for longer than 10 minutes. It’s a little bit like that old retail conundrum of: “you need experience to get experience”. (In fact, come to think of it, the worlds of retail and stand-up comedy are actually very similar: neither pays very well, and both invariably involve being screamed at by drunken bogans. I should find a job at Kmart.)

Without the support and productions skills of BottledSnail, this show would have been an unmitigated disaster. Our venue would have been less hospitable to basic forms of life, our crowds smaller, and most importantly, we would have been without a support network. We owe them everything but money, and for that, I am thankful.

I would highly suggest coming to the show. Not only because I’m performing in it, but also to show your support for the crew at BottledSnail. Without them, the legal industry would be dominated by people in grey suits, with sharpened soup spoons protruding from their clavicles. And nobody wants that.

David Rose & Michael Shafar: Outsiders, presented by BottledSnail Productions, runs 26 Sep – 3 Oct at The Improv Conspiracy (19 Meyers Place, Melbourne) as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival


Tickets: $15/$12 from www.melbournefringe.com.au

* The lawyer charges more.