Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

California’s Lawyer Problem

Informant: Why did New Jersey get all the toxic waste and California all the lawyers?

Informant: New Jersey got to pick first.

The informant (my dad) is a particularly self-deprecating lawyer. While he does take pride in his work, he often admits that he only went to law school because his father had been a lawyer, and the informant had “no idea what to do with [his] life” after he graduated from college. The informant currently works at a law firm in San Francisco, CA (he recently changed firms, after his former firm became too large and very corrupt. I suspect the series of lawyer jokes he told me were told with some of his old colleagues in mind.) This joke was told to my family over the dinner table, and was very much enjoyed by my mom (also an attorney).

This joke in particular is one the informant might connect to because he is stationed in California (the same state in which his wife works as a lawyer and his father worked as a lawyer). He is also very aware of the negative stereotypes surrounding his profession, and finds enjoyment in laughing about how truly awful some of the people he’s had to work with have been (though the informant also admits that many lawyers are, in fact, “extraordinarily decent people”). This joke seemed to be particularly active in California; the informant said it’d been told to him by three different colleagues on three separate occasions.

In addition, I discovered this joke was published (word for word) in a joke book.

Citation: Arnott, Stephen, and Mike Haskins. Man Walks into a Bar: Over 6,000 of the Most Hilarious Jokes, Funniest Insults, and Gut-busting One-liners. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses, 2007. Print.

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