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

21 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2006

Date Written: July 11, 2006


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.

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: or

Steven Lubet (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-6605 (Phone)

Thomas Hankinson

Northwestern University, School of Law, Students

Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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