From law school to laughter classes

Originally appeared in Queen's Alumni Review, Spring, 2001

From law school to laughter classes

Though she was called to the Bar in 1985, Catherine Lawrence, Arts'80, jokes that now she just "plays" bars.

   Catherine, who earned her law degree from the University of Windsor in 1983, has spent the last seven years as a stand-up comic. After an eight-year stint practising corporate commercial law - what she jokingly refers to as "beer law" - at John Labatt Ltd. in London, ON, Catherine made a U-turn in her career. She took a stand-up comedy course at the Avenue Road Arts School in Toronto, performing her final test at Yuk Yuk's Comedy Club. In 1996, she won the Canadian Bar Associations' "Bar None" stand-up comedy competition. Now her job includes working as a comic at legal fundraisers, a task most people would find more stressful than arguing a case in front of a judge. But, says Catherine, "Their world is so serious. They respect how difficult [stand-up] is to do, especially those who do court work. I think they're quite a forgiving group."

   Catherine, who lives in Toronto with her husband, lawyer Jerome Morse, and their three children, has now taken her interest one step further. Just back from a meeting of the American Association of Therapeutic Humor, she's hoping to work as a speaker with corporate clients, using laughter to help reduce the stress of their employees.

   So how does Catherine relax from a job that's so much fun? Well, she's the captain of the first ever Canadian women's elephant polo team, and she competed in Nepal in 1996 at the 15th World Elephant Polo Championships. Last summer she rejoined the tall ship Eye of the Wind for the New York-to-Boston leg in the Tall Ship Millennium Challenge Race. She's not your typical lawyer. No kidding!-By Georgie Binks, Arts'75