COMEDIAN: HANNA EVENSEN ’20
It’s no joke: If you want to become a comedian, go to law school.
That formula works for Hanna Evensen, whose observational and storytelling comedy includes “mom jokes,” explorations of family foibles, and “a little about being in law school.”
“There’s crossover between standup and the law because being a lawyer, especially when it comes to litigation, you have to convince people of things,” says Evensen, now completing her third year of law school in the Harvard exchange program. “You have to make people see your viewpoint, and you do a lot of the same in comedy.”
During her time in Berkeley, Evensen performed relentlessly at Bay Area comedy clubs and won the 2018 Rooster T Feathers comedy competition, besting more than 150 others. She comes from a wisecracking family, and her comedic sensibilities have been influenced by “a lot of very dry Swedish humor, and British TV, too.”
While not a classical, rapid-fire standup comic, Evensen enjoys such jokesters as Trevor Noah, Ali Wong, and Dave Chappelle. She relies on a stable of facial expressions to connect with audiences and isn’t beyond poking fun at the legal profession, twisting funny bones by exploiting the “evil lawyer” trope.
Law offices—like much of corporate America—are recognizable settings to many because of their assorted human dramas, Evensen explains.
“There’s something funny about a lawyer just being a lawyer,” she says. “They take themselves very seriously, and they probably should, but it’s still funny.”
Evensen is considering a career in criminal litigation, not exactly the most humorous legal terrain. While comedy can benefit from law school experience, the reverse is also true, she attests.
“Standup is one of the more intimidating forms of public speaking,” Evensen says. “Once you’ve done it, then speaking up in a lecture, doing an oral argument, or addressing a panel of judges becomes easier to do.
“I also think that you become a more effective and interesting lawyer when you can use humor,” she adds. “Not just in class, but in my work experience, too, humor is a way to get people to pay attention and to be more interested in what you’re saying.”
Words to chuckle by.