You're heard the expresssion good for a laugh, how about a laugh for good? Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick ( R-Union) is not only a trial lawyer, he's also a comedian and over the next month he will perform two shows for charity.
A Westfield resident, Bramnick, who is serving his fifth term in the New Jersey General Assembly representing Union, Somerset and Morris Counties in the 21st District, holds the title “Funniest Lawyer in New Jersey” after winning contests sponsored by the bar association at Rascals Comedy Club.
Bramnick, 59, said more than two decades ago his wife entered him in the comedy contest and he's been hooked ever since.
The entertainer will share his quick wit and comic timing with attendees at the Auction for Healing the Children at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 31 at the Basking Ridge Country Club. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to providing donated medical care to children in need in both the United States and throughout the world.
Bramnick, who writes all his own material, will also appear as part of a bi-partisan double-bill when he takes the stage with former Democratic Gov. Brendan Byrne on Wednesday, April 25 at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick. The assemblyman said he is looking forward to his performance with Byrne, whom he called "a riot." The show is part of a benefit for the New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.
The comic said his humor is very "Jersey-centric" and he keeps it "clean" by poking fun at new laws and signs such as "report aggressive driving."
"I get a lot of material from things that come across my desk as an assemblyman and a law maker," he said.
Confident in his delivery, Bramnick said he doesn't suffer from pre-show jitters.
"I'm a trial lawyer, I've been trying cases for 30 years, I'm not worried about doing comedy," he said.
That said, Bramnick noted that he has faced a tough room or two during his time. Recently he said he struggled during a show at the Borgata because his Jersey jokes just didn't resonate with the Pennsylvania crowd.
The comedian also said he "failed miserably" at Drew Universtity not too long ago.
"Governor Codey's son was in the audience and the next time I saw him (former Gov. Codey, a Democrat) he said, 'I heared you're not too funny.' I don't play well to the college audience, I guess," he said.
Where he really shines, he said, is on the charity event circuit. For more than two decades, Bramnick has left 'em laughing to benefit AIDS research, families who lost loved ones in terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and countless other charities.
"The thing in comedy is that you want the audience to work with you. If they're there to support a charity, a charity they love, the tend to want to work with you, whereas with straight comedy where audiences are paying you have to work a little harder," Bramnick explained.
The funnyman said it may take him four or five hours of work to get a good two minutes of material.
"It's takes comic timing and you have to set it up a certain way. I work on it a lot," he said.
Bramnick said he has the good fortune of testing out his jokes-in-progress on new and receptive listeners almost daily.
"I'm out every night at events, you know at cocktail receptions where people are willing to work with you. It's the paying events that are a little more challenging," he said.
As much as he enjoys the comedy circuit, the attorney isn't ready to quit his day job just yet.
"I'd love to play Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Tahoe, but I think I'll wait for the invitation before I take my tour on the road," he said.
For more information on the upcoming shows, visit Bramnick's website.