Law student Lou Lamari’s unusual summer of stand-up comedy and entrepreneurship
Third-year law student Lou Lamari can respond to the question, “So, what did you do this summer?” with an extraordinary answer. Rather than working at a firm and being serious in a suit, Lamari ran an environmentally friendly, vintage clothing small business, volunteered as a camp counsellor at Camp Aurora for queer and trans youth, and made it to the semi-finals of Rumor’s Comedy Club’s “Funniest Person with a Day Job” contest.
It’s not completely unheard of for law students to do stand-up. Alum Anjali Sandhu (JD/2020), now an associate at MLT Aikins, proved that law students can be funny when she performed stand-up comedy during her tenure at Robson Hall. Indeed, Lamari, who graduates in 2024, has been performing stand-up comedy for almost two years, and is not a stranger to performing. “I got into stand-up because it felt natural – I love storytelling and think of myself more likewise rather than someone who tells jokes,” they said. “I took some time off school in 2L and was looking for things to occupy my time.”
“To thine own self be true.”
-Polonius in Hamlet, act 1, scene 3
At the time, Lamari’s two biggest comedic influences were Mae Martin and Issa Kixen. “[B]oth are nonbinary and do comedy that feels markedly different than the patriarchal and often misogynistic acts that dominate the international scene,” Lamari said. “Issa is from Winnipeg, and were one of the main [inspirations] I had to actually trying it myself.”
Lamari explains their comedy writing is “heavily influenced by academia,” specifically in editing and revising. “I am always trying to improve, or maybe take a different approach to the same joke, so taking in audience reactions as feedback is really important to adjusting and evolving a set. Law school has made me pretty effective at looking at my writing from different perspectives to imagine how different audience members might interpret what I’m trying to say. If I don’t think it will reach the largest crowd as possible, I revise until I feel confident that people will get the joke. It’s not totally unlike writing for an academic journal – just much, much more light hearted.
Law school has made me pretty effective at looking at my writing from different perspectives to imagine how different audience members might interpret what I’m trying to say.
-Lou Lamari (3L)
Despite law being a notoriously difficult academic program that comes with inherent stress and challenges, Lamari says there is lots of humour in law – depending on the topic. “Comedy has helped me in my law school career because if all else fails, maybe I can get a funny set out of an unfortunate situation,” says Lamari. “Think of some cases – the ones where everyone is safe – but maybe a divorcing couple tries to offer Scene points as equalization payments instead of dollars. That’s funny!”
Competing at the Rumor’s Comedy Club event, Lamari says they did not actually state what they did “for work,” but admitted the lawyers in the audience made them nervous. “I thought “what if they think my set is inappropriate and I never find a job after this”. I put a lot of thought into my professionalism when I’m on stage and that heavily influences how I determine what jokes I actually tell in public. It would be soooo much easier to be funny if I wasn’t worried about my future career.”
As a funny person with a day job, Lamari didn’t actually work a traditional law job this summer, but rather ran a small business called “Factory Goods”, selling deadstock vintage denim goods manufactured in Winnipeg in the 1980s. As Lamari explains, “deadstock” is unworn, “new” items that are no longer being manufactured. “It’s a pretty unique product so I’m very proud of this project that has been ongoing for a bit over a year now. We are on Instagram as @shopfactorygoods.”
Being self-employed allowed Lamari the opportunity to take time away from work during the last week of summer to serve as a camp counsellor at the Rainbow Resource Centre’s Camp Aurora, where they ran a cabin for 14-year-olds at Manitoba’s summer camp for gender and sexually diverse youth. “It was a magical experience that really healed my inner child,” says Lamari. “These kids are so brave for being who they are at this age, and for many it was the first time in their lives where they felt safe to express themselves authentically.”
Back for a final year at Robson Hall, Lamari plans to pursue their keen interest in collaborative family law – and continue to explore comedy writing by finding humorous moments in legal practice.