Jess Salomon is a former UN war crimes lawyer turned stand up comic. The Montreal Metro has called her comedy “charming and intelligent”.
Jess’s festival credits include Just for Laugh’s OFFJFL and ZOOFEST, San Francisco Sketchfest, the Laughing Skull Festival, Boston Women in Comedy Festival, Cape Fear Comedy Festival, and the Ice Breakers Festival.
Other stuff! She’s recorded a TV special as part of the iChannel’s “No Kidding” series and in 2015 was a semi-finalist in SiriusXM’s Top Comic competition. This Spring she’ll be recording a gala for CBC at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.
Also! She’s written and starred in three solo shows at the Montreal Fringe: Doing Good, Obsession, and IMO (In My Opinion), appeared on CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, on Sun News Network’s Straight Talk as a contributing pundit, and in major Canadian papers such as The Toronto Star, The Montreal Gazette and The National Post, as well as on CBC, CJAD, The Beat, and CHOM radio. Her writing has also appeared in VICE and The Beaverton and her stand up has been featured on SiriusXM’s Canada Laughs and CBC’s Laugh out Loud.
One last thing! When she’s not writing and performing Jess likes to check in with her old colleagues in The Hague. She enjoys hearing how sad the war criminals are without her observational wit and storytelling to keep them going. She believes they are jealous of her comedy audience and regret what they have done.
Let’s start with the basics. Did you always imagine yourself going to law school?
I didn’t. At a certain point during in my undergrad I decided I wanted to work in human rights. I figured it was lawyer or be a forensic scientist that has to exhume mass graves. My view of the world wasn’t very developed. I sincerely felt like those were my two options. I picked law.
What makes your current career "lawfully uncommon"?
Did you read the article in Reductress, “Woman uses law degree exclusively for Facebook arguments”? That’s me. That headline hit very close to home. I use law as a way to bully people online. It also loosely informs my stand up. And in the event that a joke I tell lands me in front of one of our human rights tribunals, I hope it helps me too.
At what moment did you realize that you wanted to switch gears?
There was a moment where I didn’t feel excited about working with the law. I loved the people I worked with and the environment that I was in. My work was connected to history and politics and I didn’t have to bill by the hour, minute, second. I just felt like I wanted to do something more creative and law felt limiting. I felt constrained by the sources of law and the writing too. It’s hard to imagine a field in which you have more creative freedom than stand up.
How much has this shift in gears changed your life?
I hang out in a lot of bars with guys in their 20’s … living that intern kind of life. Financially too.
What got your juices flowing or tickled your fancy while at law school? Any good stories come to mind?
My favourite part of law school was the moot court stuff. Also the coffee houses were lots of fun. Oh and club sandwich Fridays in the little cafeteria downstairs, I’m not sure if it still exists.
But I think the most hilarious thing happened in our first week. A guy in my class wrote a, I believe, satirical piece in the law school bulletin – the Quid Novi – that was sexually explicit and pretty misogynistic. People freaked out. It was hilarious in that who does that in their first week of law school? Everyone is terrified and this guy goes and writes this Andrew Dice Clay inspired thing in the school newsletter. People in the years above were so outraged that it bonded us together as a first year class.
I still see that guy from time to time. He’s a practicing lawyer. It all worked out.
What made your blood boil or made you snooze while at law school? Any hidden gems worth telling?
Anything involving procedure put me straight to sleep. A real gem was my constitutional law professor, Stephen Scott. We must have spent most of the year on stuff that happened pre-Charter. I think we spent one class on rights. We talked mostly about England. He was so entertaining even though I didn’t understand most of what he was talking about.
Do you still see law all around you? Or is that a thing of the past?
I mostly see comedy around me. It’s the pre-dominant lens I have on the world now and I’m so happy about that.
You are at a coffee house speaking to a first-year law student. What advice would you give them? Please provide your answer in a tweet. Yes, that means 140 characters and hashtags. (We are millenNials, so keep in mind that this will make it to the world wide web.)
#FreeBooze #Canapes #AvoidLawyers #ThompsonHouseAfterParty #HookUpWithTheCopWhoIsAuditingCriminalLaw = #CoffeeHouseGameOnFleek
What does the day in the life of Jess look like? Give us the rundown.
Wake up late-ish, pull the cucumbers off my eyes. Catch up on social media and answer emails. Whaddup Haterz! Book shows. Write. Maybe gym. Pre-show panic-write. Do a show. Stay out late.
SO MUCH GLAMOUR.
If you were given the blessing and curse of an extra hour every day to do whatever you wanted, what would it be?
Just chill with my wife. I know, gross.
Any regrets? (Yeah, we are retrospective and deep like that).
Leaving law. No seriously. Forget everything I said.