Court jesters

April 2011

Lawyers making fun of themselves to raise money for charity: it’s not a joke but Skit Nite at the Faculty of Law does have a reputation for milking the experiences of students, professors and lawyers themselves for punch lines that hit close to home

There are plenty of jokes about lawyers but those written by lawyers themselves seem much harder to come by. Enter Skit Nite at the Faculty of Law, a long-running, self-described “Saturday Night Live meets Law School” one-night event of skits, songs, dramatic spoofs and even the occasional moment of improv.

This year’s event will be held on March 15 at Club Soda but “Skit Nite has been around as long as anyone seems to know,” said 3L Charlie Feldman, a member of the evening’s organizing committee. “We’ve seen reference to it [in the student newspaper] in the 80s and we hear stories of days of yore from older professors who have tales to share.”

Feldman, who has participated in Skit Nite every one of his three years at the Faculty, notes that the evening is a showcase for Faculty creativity and humour. “This is the only chance really to tell jokes and to have some of the more nerdy Law jokes validated and recognized,” he said.

Popular skit subjects include first-year students describing their confusion at trying to figure out the differences between civil and common law or wondering if their French or English is up to par and third-year students talking about the stress of moot competitions.

Dean Daniel Jutras, along with Professors Rosalie Jukier, Shauna Van Praagh and David Lametti got on stage for last year’s edition of Skit Nite.

 

Professors also get in on the fun, often in song. Last year, faculty members’ repertoire ranged from Associate Dean David Lametti’s cover of an R.E.M. song, “The end of the law as we know it,” complete with anti-establishmentarian sentiments; Rosalie Jukier and Shauna Van Praagh’s cover of “Mamma Mia” about teaching first year students; and Daniel Jutras’ acoustic rendition of the Kings of Leon “Use Somebody,” which all also ended up on YouTube for repeat viewing.

Controlled mayhem in the Dean's office

Daniel Jutras watches the mayhem in his office as the students get ready to film a segment of their comedy…

One of the skits on deck for 2011 spoofs a day in the life of the Dean and a group of students and professors gathered in Jutras’ office on an early Friday morning before Reading Week to tape footage for the video.

A dozen in number, the cast lounged listlessly in the front office, awaiting their turn to speak to the Dean. One student appeared to fall asleep on the floor while another paced back and forth, inexplicably clad in a tight t-shirt and shorts.

Enter Jutras, harried and scarcely noticing the crowd in the room.

Given permission to speak to him, the students present him with a grievance, each more outrageous than the next. One student sobs because she wasn’t given an extension to complete her assignment. “Last night was the finale of the Jersey Shore!” she protests. A second wants to befriend Jutras on Facebook. A third finds the Moot Court too hot; a fourth finds it too cold. The students attack their lines with enthusiasm and Jutras dutifully plays the part of the stone-faced Dean, breaking character only to crack an occasional joke of his own.

A writers’ circle at Thomson House kicked off this year’s creative process in January and the line-up of acts so far includes three a capella numbers as well as the presence of a band. More than 10 professors will take part and the total number of students involved in either performances or behind the scenes tops 60, estimates Feldman. Last year, about 150 people bought tickets to the event and raised $10,000 for four charities – Share the Warmth, Le Bon Dieu dans la rue, the Old Brewery Mission and Chez Doris; this year’s RSVPs on the event’s Facebook page is at 160 at press time.

“It’s kind of a chance to laugh at ourselves, too,” Feldman noted. “In a Faculty that can either take itself very seriously or in its subject matter be very serious, it’s great to have a chance to let loose and all laugh at the same thing.”


Skit Nite begins at 7:30 on Tuesday, March 15 at Club Soda (1225 rue St. Laurent). Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

For more information about Skit Nite 2011, see the event’s Facebook page.

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