Did you hear the one about the snail in the bottle? David Rose, a law consultant turned stand-up comedian, has.
The technology and privacy law consultant is based in Melbourne with more than 10 million views online. David is also a former paralegal and appearing in Brisbane at Good Chat Comedy Club on Sunday night.
David was previously a director and cast member of the Monash Law Revue and the Bottled Snail Law Revue at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. And he believes lawyers have a sense of humour.
“The law is inherently funny, I think. A lot of the most memorable common law cases are funny – learning about the ‘bottled snail’ case in torts was pretty amusing,” he said.
“You’ll find that a lot of comedians have a background in law. Ronny Chieng, John Cleese, Steve Vizard, Shaun Micallef, Charlie Pickering, literally all of the Chaser crew…”
So how do law and comedy work together?
“I think that a law degree is just a humanities degree with a paycheque at the end,” he said.
“If you’re analytical, judgemental, and rhetorically gifted, what are your choices? To me, it’s law or comedy. Maybe running for local council, if you’re the masochistic type.”
And it seems David was destined for comedy.
“I vividly remember being distressed as a child because I couldn’t stop myself from cracking jokes. I thought there was something medically wrong with me. (There probably is.)
“I always liked mooting in law school. Good chance to show off and practicse material.”
David covers a range of topics in his shows, including depression.
“Nothing is off limits, but some topics require more attention to detail than others. I’m sure the same is true of all jobs. You wouldn’t ask an architect whether some buildings are off limits, but you’d probably want them to put more care into a skyscraper than an outdoor toilet.
“The interesting thing is that when people get upset at my material, they only ever get upset at the jokes which are relevant to them, or which makes them feel hypocritical. I’m yet to meet somebody who’s offended by a joke that they can’t relate to.
“As for depression, I work on the basis that it’s “better in than out”. I’ll be having depressed thoughts whether or not I talk about them onstage. Externalising them gives me a chance to poke fun at them, and for other people to see they’re not alone.
“I have a joke about depression that went viral a few years ago; it has about four million views now. You’d be amazed how many people commented saying ‘I thought I was the only one who thought this way!’.
“It’s wonderful to connect with people about something so intimate. On the negative side, courting the depressed demographic is not great for ticket sales. My people do not go out much.”
David makes sure there is a lot of audience interaction in his shows and recently there was some banter with a member of the audience claiming to be the writer of the children’s animation Bluey.
“That one was unreal, although the jury’s out (pardon the law pun) on whether that was actually the writer of Bluey. I have a friend who writes on the show and she doesn’t recognise the voice. I like to think he was just going incognito for the night.
“I love chatting to the audience. As somebody who can be a bit awkward off stage, it’s a nice way for me to get some social interaction in a controlled setting. Plus, you never know what’s going to get thrown at you. I once got heckled by the girl who took my virginity after she snuck into a show. I hadn’t seen her in years. It was funny on an atomic level and I hope it never, ever happens again.”
And with an off-stage interest in technology, David’s opinion on AI and the legal profession?
“Yes. You are all doomed. Please come and spend your fancy lawyer money at my show while you still can.
“In all seriousness, I do think that some areas of the law are in major trouble. A lot of the work I did as a paralegal in my early 20s could easily be done by ChatGPT today. If I were in conveyancing, working on commercial contracts, or working on discovery in large cases, I’d be pretty concerned about job security.
“With that said, I sincerely doubt that AI is going to destroy the legal profession, as some are predicting. Do you want an algorithm deciding the outcome in Mabo? Do you want dissents that read ‘KIRBY: Error. 404 not found’? You can’t extract people from the law. Without people, it’s all just symbols on a page.”