By Allen Mendelsohn
Henry Steinberg may have been a brilliant Superior Court judge, but it was humour that made him tick. The author of Backstage at the Palace and By a Jury of His Peers, Justice Steinberg could deliver the laughs both in his books and on the bench. That's why there is no doubt he would have enjoyed the April 20th lecture starring Catherine Lawrence, Esq., President and CEO of Survival of the Funniest, who delivered the laughs herself in the legal context, with the aid of a few props.
Lynne Kassie, a personal friend of Ms. Lawrence, introduced her, recalling that they had "laughed their way through the golf courses of Florida." Ms. Kassie delivered some great laughs herself with exceptionally witty stories about a best-dressed women's elephant polo team and astronaut school. She also commented how Justice Steinberg would have loved Ms. Lawrence, a thought that was later echoed to this reporter by Justice Steinberg's wife Janice, in attendance with their son Sandy.
Ms. Lawrence took to the podium and said she was "here to speak about the power of laughter." From then on , it was a steady stream of audience participation and one-liners that made for a raucous evening, but which is unfortunately impossible to duplicate here on the printed page.
Starting with having the audience stand up "to stretch our laugh muscles," Ms. Lawrence also brought out some goofy glasses and a rubber chicken to bring the Lord Reading to a level heretofore unseen. Plastic balls and a basket placed on a volunteer from each table's head lead to fun all over the room.
There were jokes about Ms. Lawrence as an articling student, a judge at an arbitration, and something about panty hose in a briefcase that may not be repeatable. The ultimate ironic sign "WELCOME - NO ADMITTANCE" was used to great comedic effect.
Ms. Lawrence said that "laughter brings oxygen and compromise," which seems like a good lesson for any lawyer, and one that Justice Steinberg most certainly would have agreed with.