Comedy counsel storm the Edinburgh Fringe

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By Judge John Hack on

Festival punters can’t move without tripping over a barrister — or someone playing at being a barrister — about to jump on stage


Barristers can be funny — that’s not in doubt. Just look at their line in ludicrous Tory-boy-style weekend causal togs, or their attempts to engage in random football chat with the plumber called in to unblock the chamber’s lavatory.

But apart from the odd Clive Anderson-shaped exception, we don’t expect them to be intentionally funny. At least we didn’t until this year’s Edinburgh Festival, where there has been a glut of comedy counsel — and, as reported several days ago — comedians playing at being barristers.

Submitted in evidence are these two acts. The first features Liam Sullivan, a junior barrister at Trinity Chambers in Chelmsford, performing in a revue entitled “Men with Nectar Points”.


Sullivan was called at Lincoln’s Inn in 2009 and specialises in family law proceedings. The chamber’s website cryptically suggests that Sullivan is especially keen on accepting instructions involving “numerical or mathematical aspects”.

In addition to larking about with his comedy chums, he’s keen on rugby, basketball, football, and somewhat bizarrely, “writing awkwardly about himself in the third person”. Doubtless, he penned his own chambers profile.

Judging by the shopping trolley depicted on the promotional poster, “Men with Nectar Points” is likely to be a romp through the first world trials and tribulations of professional chaps. The short bulb — again presumably drafted by the lawyer member of the troupe — warns that “this show is not associated with nectar points. You will not receive nectar points for attending this show”.

It runs at the Dragonfly through this Saturday.

The second piece of evidence is an example of the inevitable. It was bound to happen that a clever spark would alight on the barrister-barista connection and brew up a comedy routine around it. So it is no surprise that this year’s Fringe brings us “Barry the barrister/barista”.


The plot outline explains that

“Barry is forced to leave his dream job as a barrister in a top law firm, under sketchy circumstances. We find him struggling to make ends meet, grinding beans in a coffee shop — will Barry return to fighting crime in court, and in the process fight the demons of his past?”

Who knows? But the anally retentive in the legal profession — of which Legal Cheek proudly counts itself a member — will be wondering why Barry had a dream (or any other) job at a law firm rather than the more conventional and likely position as a self-employed struggling criminal hack at chambers.

Undoubtedly, all is revealed at Edinburgh’s Compass Room; the show also runs until 24 August.