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Comedians-at-Law

By Donna Mallard | May 2, 2015
News

Law Office Management

May 2, 2015

Comedians-at-Law

A pair of non-practicing attorneys joke about the law for a living.

Back when he worked for big law in New York, Matt Ritter (right, in photo) would get off work, change out of his suit, and hit the city's club scene, where he moonlighted as a stand-up comic.

In 2009 he left what he calls a "cushy" job with "baller status" representing corporate clients and moved to Los Angeles to work full time as a comedian, reviewing documents on the side to support himself. (His description of that work, from a 2013 performance posted on YouTube: "It's brainless, it's monotonous, it's soul crushing. For you law students in the back, you might call it your future.")

On the comedy circuit, Ritter met a compatriot in Kevin Israel (left), then a lawyer and now a transportation department spokesman in New Jersey. As Comedians at Law, the pair travels the country-sometimes with three other lawyer-comics-deploying humor at events before audiences at bar associations, law firms, and law schools, including a number in California.

"I guess people realized that there was a need for some levity in the legal space," says Ritter, who now performs most nights, primarily in L.A. He also produces and hosts television shows.

It takes time to warm up an audience of lawyers, for whom self-mockery can be a "tough swallow," Israel says, but it is satisfying: "It's definitely enjoyable to get on stage in front of lawyers and be able to say the things you wanted to say about law school, or about the process, or about what it's like working at a law firm."

Israel also appears at gigs independently on the East Coast, usually in nonlegal contexts, and he's kept his day job.

Readers can catch a show from Comedians at Law at Los Angeles?s Hollywood Improv on June 30.

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Donna Mallard

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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