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Truth in Humor: How Improvisational Comedy Can Help Lawyers Get Some Chops

Steven Lubet

Northwestern University - School of Law

Thomas Hankinson

Northwestern University

July 11, 2006

Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 916601

Lawyers can learn a lot from the theory of improvisational comedy, and it isn't just a matter of thinking on your feet. As we will explain, the key concept in both disciplines is the creation of a new, temporary reality. In improvisation, the cast must draw the audience into sharing the constructed reality of the stage, such that they can actually "see" the objects and characters portrayed, without the use of props or costumes. In trial, the lawyer must draw the jury into sharing the re-constructed reality of past events, such that they "see" what happened, even though they were not present to witness the original actions. Improvisation theorists and teachers have developed principles that guide performers in creating and maintaining a constructed reality in which the audience participates. And these principles of improv - especially the version known as "long form" - can be of great use to lawyers.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 21

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Date posted: July 12, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Lubet, Steven and Hankinson, Thomas, Truth in Humor: How Improvisational Comedy Can Help Lawyers Get Some Chops (July 11, 2006). Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 916601. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=916601 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.916601

Contact Information

Steven Lubet (Contact Author)
Northwestern University - School of Law ( email )
375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-6605 (Phone)
Thomas Hankinson
Northwestern University
2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
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