By Robert Lopez
Comedian Al Lubel got some of his first laughs, unintentionally, in the courtroom.
"I was getting laughs and stares, but from the wrong crowds," the former lawyer said. "I might have had a big trial all day long and at night I was performing in the comedy club, which was kind of weird. Sometimes I was getting that jury to laugh and they were laughing at me all day. And at night I was a struggling comedian and the crowds were just staring at me. It should have been the reverse."
No longer performing for judges and prosecutors, Mr. Lubel makes his case on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman and in clubs across the nation. Today through Sunday, he will take the stand at Go Bananas Comedy in Montgomery.
An only child, Mr. Lubel enjoyed being the center of attention. Comedy and law seemed like natural career choices, though his mother pushed him toward the latter.
"It's a Jewish thing, being either a doctor or a lawyer," he said. "And my parents figured I'd kill a few people if I was a doctor, or maybe that I wouldn't be good with blood. My uncle is a lawyer, and I like arguing and performing. It seems that lawyers perform in court. So it was a more fun thing to do."
But he said he really wanted to be like the comedians he saw on The Ed Sullivan Show.
"Alan King is probably the first comedian I remember seeing on Ed Sullivan," he said. "He seemed to be enjoying himself. He had total attention and was making everyone laugh. Being an only child, I was making everyone cry, because I was so spoiled. Maybe it'd be better to make people laugh. They'd like you more."
Mr. Lubel graduated from the University of Miami law school and worked for three years at a law firm in Southern California. He quit in 1986 to pursue comedy full time. He testifies about that former career in his act.
"I don't think juries should decide cases," he said. "Judges should, because the judge is an expert at judging. You want an expert judging your fate. If you go in for open-heart surgery, would you want a cardiologist or 12 of your peers?"
His former clients have yet to show up at one of his performances.
"I've always worried about that happening," he said. "All my former clients are luckily in jail though."
The Queens, N.Y., native also discusses his mother, who was less than thrilled about his decision to abandon law.
"I didn't get into comedy just to bother her, but I do get a kick out of the fact that she doesn't like me being a comedian," he said. "She's so overbearing. It was like, 'He has to be a lawyer, he has to be a lawyer,' without really thinking about what I wanted. But I can see her point. It's just mothers. They want the best for their kids."
Mr. Lubel has considered moving back into the legal profession, but doesn't like the idea of being a businessman. He remembers taking his time putting together an appeal once.
"My boss kept saying, 'We need the thing, we need the thing,' " he said. "I submitted it to the judge, and he was mad it was so late, but he also said it was the best thing he'd ever read on the subject. We lost a lot of money on that case though. In school you can do that, but in the real world it's a business. I miss law school, but I don't miss the actual practice of law."
But he does retain a certain fondness.
"I think it (law) really prepared me to be a comedian, in the sense of writing material and looking at things from all different perspectives," he said. "As a lawyer you have to see all sides of the argument. Comedy is pretty similar. The best comedy, I think, is when you approach things from all different angles. Jerry Seinfeld, I'm a big fan of. He analyzes the hell out of things. And being a lawyer really helped that analytical instinct."
If you go
Who: Al Lubel
Where: Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place, Montgomery
Times/tickets: 8:30 p.m. today; $5, $2 with college ID; 18 and over
8:30 and 10:55 p.m. Friday; $10; 18 and over
8:30 and 10:45 p.m. Saturday; $12; 21 and over
8:30 p.m. Sunday; $5 for men, $2 for women; 18 and over
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