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Jester’z Improv

New Rule: The Law of Two Feet

Law of Two Feet by orcmid from Flickr

I’m making a declaration – The Law of Two Feet will apply to all aspects of my life for the entire month of November.

Law of Two Feet by orcmid from Flickr

I learned about the Law of Two Feet at my first Podcamp (now called TechPhx). At this unconference, it is perfectly acceptable to leave in the middle of a session if your needs aren’t being met in the session you’re sitting in. The responsibility is on you to get your needs met and to take action if that’s not happening.

Over the past few weeks I’ve found myself in situations where I realize 10 minutes into a meeting or an event that it’s not what I thought it was going to be and there was no benefit or point for me to be there. I wanted to leave, but I didn’t know how to excuse myself without feeling like I was being rude.

This month I’m going to figure that out. If I feel like my presence at a meeting or event was unproductive, I’m going to take myself somewhere else.

This is going to be like an assignment I got when I was taking improv acting at Jester’z. For a week we had to act on every impulse we had as long as it wasn’t going to get us fired or arrested. I was a 3L at the time so that week I walked out of meetings, wrote weird things on white boards, and randomly sat on tables.

This is going to be fun. Feel free to join me in this endeavor and let me know how it goes!

Darwin meets Dilbert: Applying the Law of Two Feet to your next meeting by opensourceway from Flickr

Undeniable Recap of 2010

2010 was an eventful year for me.  As I was driving from Phoenix to my parents’ place in Sonoma, CA, I started reflecting on the highlights of the year.

  1. My Sister’s Wedding. This was hands-down the best day of the year.  I consider myself to be my sister’s little sister and her big brother so watching her get married to such a wonderful man was a very big deal.  I watched Morena marry the love of her life, Rick,  in a wedding that the two of them designed with hand-selected music and readings.  My sister, who is also a law student (super smart, editor of her law review), was stunning.  It was wonderful to meet her in-laws (who are awesome!) and reconnect with friends.  It was everything a wedding is supposed to be.
  2. Sponsor A Law Kid. I am often a person who has creative ideas but who is too afraid to put them into action.  I have to thank Kade Dworkin and Meet My Followers to inspiring this idea and the social media community for encouraging me in this endeavor.  When I posted the first #SALK blog, I thought, “I’m either a genius or crazy.”  I also thought about the advice I received from Sam Glover who said to think about the worst thing that could happen.  For #SALK, the worst thing that could happen was nothing.  To date, #SALK has sold 28 days and funded over $1000 of next semester’s education.

    Photo by Jeff Moriarty

  3. Jester’Z Improv Acting Class. I am a person who thrives in structure.  Most of my flashmobs and pranks are fairly planned out in advance.  This class put my classmates and I had no idea what was going to happen on stage or what scenario we would be asked to play out.  Taking this acting class pushed me think faster on my feet and to enjoy the simplicity of play.  It also gave me a reprieve from reality for three hours every week.  My friend, Jeff Moriarty, shot a snippet of my final showcase.  Per the audience’s suggestion, my classmate Linzi and I were supposed to be “pumped lawyers.”  Most of the audience did not know that I was in law school.  I love how happy I look in this video.
  4. Rock n Roll Half Marathon. I ran my first half marathon in 2010.  It was 2 hours and 9 minutes of masochistic fun.  It was hard, but I’m glad I did it, and I’m doing it again next year.
  5. Finding My Legal Niche. I solidified my decision to specialize in intellectual property and internet law this last year.  I’ve enjoyed so many of my classes in this area: Intellectual Property, Cyberspace Law, High Tech Licensing, Copyright, Trademark Law, and Privacy.  I’m looking forward to working with entrepreneurs through ASU’s Innovation Advancement Program next semester.

I had many firsts in 2010:

  • First internship at a big law firm
  • First internship with an in-house legal department
  • First half marathon
  • First trip to Ohio
  • First California roll (eww)
  • First guest appearance on a podcast
  • First painted toenails
  • First paintball game
  • First talk on a legal topic at a conference
  • First trip to the Firefly Room in the Phoenix Art Museum

I am excited for what’s to come in 2011.

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Summer School 2010: Improv Acting Class

I spent a significant amount of time this past semester applying for summer positions.  With the economy still on the rebound, they were hard to come by.  I made a promise to myself that no matter what I did during the summer before my last year of law school, I got to take improv acting classes.  I had a few experiences in the last year that inspired me to take a formal class:

  1. Captain Eric Mayer, U.S. Army JAG:  I had the pleasure of spending last summer with the Army JAG in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  Captain Mayer was the defense attorney in the office, and he was phenomenal in the courtroom.  Whenever there was a court martial, I sat in the audience and watched him in complete awe.  He never seemed uncomfortable or at a loss for words.  I don’t think he ever wrote a script for anything he did, not even his opening statement.  When he questioned a witness, he didn’t have a list of questions.  He put a list of the information he needed to get out of the witness to build his case and would check off each one once he got the answer he needed.  I was intimidated by his skills just from sitting in the audience.
  2. Professor Dallyn’s Applied Evidence Class:  This course taught us how to apply the rules of evidence to a courtroom situation.  Every day we did role plays where we took turns playing the parts of the questioning attorney, the opposing counsel, and the witness who on the stand.   The final for the class was a fake trial.  I tried to use Captain Mayer’s approach to questioning a witness, but found myself needing a script of questions and feeling flustered while the opposing counsel and I were making objections.
  3. Improv AZ’s Coroner Prank #2:  I’m a founding member of Improv AZ, a local performance troupe in the Phoenix area.  After our success with the Coroner Prank on the light rail in October 2009, we decided to repeat it at a local mall.  Things did not go according to plan, and we were confronted by the mall cops who called the real cops.  My fellow coroners were former professional improv actors.  When things turned sour, they slipped back into improv mode.  I turned seven shades of white and tried not to pass out while reserving my right to remain silent.  Thankfully the cops let us go after questioning us and the mall cops banned us from the mall for three months.  Check out my legal analysis of the event and the video.

My class started a little over two weeks ago with Jester’Z Improv and it has been amazing.  It’s a 12-week course that ends with a showcase for our friends and family.  I hope that taking this class will help improve my ability to think on my feet.

Having been a gymnast and a singer for most of my life, you might think that taking improv acting would be easy. However, in both of these activities, the performance is completely scripted.  With improv, you don’t know what’s going to happen until you’re up on the stage.  It’s a bit unsettling when you don’t know what your partner is going to say or what scenario you might be playing out.

I went to the Jester’Z Improv show featuring the regular cast and nearly peed my pants from laughing.  Part of me simply enjoyed the show and part of me was a student trying to absorb ideas from the actors and thinking, “Oh geez, these are the games I might be in during my showcase!  How am I going to pull this off?”  It’s going to be awesome.

Photo courtesy of Jester’Z Improv Comedy Troupe.