Kevin Israel: Stand-Up Comic to Lawyer and Back

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Kevin Israel jokes that, when he was born, his father held him aloft and loudly exclaimed “he will be a lawyer!” While we won’t ruin the punchline, Israel did become a lawyer, but only after first disappointing his parents to become a stand-up comic. And a good one at that.

Tonight at Zanie’s in Chicago, Israel, Greg Collett, and the other four Comedians at Law continue their Lawmageddon 2012 tour through six cities. This week we sat down with Israel to talk about his career, the show, and the ultimate disappointment of his parents.

Law school and year of graduation?

Hostra Law, 2009.

So, wait. You were a stand-up comic first, then went to law school. It always seems to be the other way around.

Yup. Graduated college in 1999. Worked for a few years and started to do comedy in 2001. Decided to go to law school in 2005. It makes very little sense, but thanks for helping me realize I’m the failure my parents always warned me about.

Hey, we’re Bitter Lawyer. Any notable accomplishments in law school?

I was one of the oldest people in my class and I managed not to murder anyone.

Your work as a lawyer, where has that been and what has it been like for you?

I worked for a mid-size construction law firm in NYC for over a year. Now I work as chief of staff for a state senator and an assemblyman in New Jersey. My work and my comedy very rarely overlap. But the folks I work for now are very supportive of my comedic career. They are great people and understand my passion.

Interesting. So you and Greg Collett got involved in politics. Any other similarities among the Comedians at Law besides being lawyers?

It’s funny, because we are all so different. We have unique backgrounds, professional experiences, and comedy styles. I guess that helps make our show so much fun.

You’ve said Bill Cosby was a big influence on you as a kid, at least his comedy work. Anyone else been an inspiration over the years?

Bill Cosby opened me up to the world of comedic story telling. His act wasn’t about punch lines, it was about going on a ride and laughing the entire way. Today I genuinely look up to any comedian willing to get on stage and make a run at it. The business is so much harder today than it was in years past.

Do you really live with your parents in a retirement development?

I did for over a year, I finally moved out about 10 months ago. I’m sure the ladies in all the coffee klatches miss watching me mow the lawn. Sorry girls . . . .

What cities are you planning to be in for Lawmageddon?

All of them!

What should folks expect tonight for the second stop of the tour, at Zanies in Chicago?

Expect to feel much better about yourselves when you leave the show. We will bring the funny just like we did in D.C. This is a show to remember.

Any good lawyer jokes?

Yeah, I’m pulling down about 1/10 of what I was 2 years ago. But I’m happy and following my dream . . . right?

Have advice for law students or lawyers who are ready to dump the practice of law and, well, live with their parents again?

Do it! Your parents miss you . . . and they will be so proud. I see tears of joy every time I talk to my parents. Those are tears of joy . . . right, mom?

Photo courtesy of Kevin Israel

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  • Lourine

    I want to find a guy who will marry me and support me. Can a guy whose a comic bring home enough money so that I do not have to work? I somehow do not think so. So even tho this guy is kind of cute, I need a guy who can bring home the bacon.