No joke was “too soon” at the early-morning comedy competition that was the 2017 NSW Golden Gavel.
You have to get up early to beat Floyd Alexander-Hunt in a public speaking competition.
The 24-year-old comedian-turned-law student from the University of Sydney took out the crown for the NSW Golden Gavel on 19 May with her speech about “Everything uni didn’t teach me about law (that TV did)” and will head to the National Golden Gavel Competition in Sydney in October.
“This was the perfect topic for me because how I learned law is actually from TV shows,” Alexander-Hunt said to open her speech. The former comedian and drama student drew hearty guffaws from the crowd when she adopted an American accent to impersonate Judge Judy adjudicating Donoghue v Stevenson.
Ten young lawyers had the 800-strong crowd in stitches as they spoke on various topics revealed to them 24 hours before the event. Fake news, Donald Trump, robot lawyers and billable hours featured heavily in most of the gags.
As is the ritual each year, competitors were given a strict time limit of between three and five minutes for their speeches. Kicking off at 7.30am, it’s a tough time to be cracking jokes rather than eggs. Fortunately, the accompanying breakfast kept the crowd happy, full and caffeinated, and even featured avocado smash for the young lawyers saving for mortgages.
“I didn’t eat until I had spoken, I was a bit nervous,” said People’s Choice Award Winner Peter Clayton, who works at the Office of the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions. Clayton was forced to navigate what could be a political minefield for public prosecutors with the topic of “Lies everyone tells about their law job”. Relieved he still had a job when his speech was over, Clayton said he was looking forward to popping his prize of Veuve Clicquot.
“I will share the champagne with my colleagues who came,” he said. “As soon as it’s chilled, which hopefully is soon.”
The 2017 Golden Gavel was sponsored by Sparke Helmore Lawyers, Unisearch Expert Opinion Services, University of Technology Sydney and Auscript. If you missed out on the fun, visit the NSW Golden Gavel Facebook page to watch the speeches in full.
Winner’s speech: Everything uni didn’t teach me about law (that TV did)
As you heard, my topic today is everything uni didn’t teach me about law that TV did. Pretty amazing topic. It’s almost like they read my mind because how I learned law is from watching TV shows about law.
It all started when I was five and I had this realisation that I’m someone who needs constant attention. I was all like, “Why don’t you love me, dad?”
I wanted to be on TV so I thought, okay, maybe I should become an actress. But then I watched Judge Judy and I thought, “I must be her”. So, now I study law at the University of Sydney – which, by the way, is the best uni if you didn’t know.
Last month I had mid-sems. Cases are so long, guys! I mean, they just keep going and going. I don’t want to be rude, but judges, summarise! I gave up reading the case in the exam and I thought, “Just breathe, Floyd. What would Judy do?” Donoghue v Stevenson, Donoghue v Stevenson. [Assumes American accent.] “That person who left the snail in the bottle is an absolute moron! It’s baloney. They are trouble, I tell you. T.R.O.U.B.L.E!”
Weirdly, my mid-semester marks weren’t that great. My tutor sat me down and said, “Floyd, you really need to study, otherwise you’re going to fail.” Obviously I took this really seriously and I have upped my study. I’m currently spending 16 hours a day watching TV shows about law and it’s been super helpful.
I learned from watching Suits that you need to be like Harvey Specter to get ahead. One of his great quotes is, “When you’re backed against the wall, break that goddamn thing down.” So the other day in my law tutorial, there I was, standing with my back against the wall and I thought, “What would Harvey Specter do? Have sex with a dumb, hot
There weren’t any in my class, so I just skipped to breaking the wall down. Everyone got really threatened and I said, “Um, I’m a wall-breaker. I’m a wall-breaker.” “What? You’re a ball-breaker lesbian?” As you can see, being an ambitious woman for the day really didn’t do me any favours.
I realised I was going about this the wrong way. I needed to be like the women on these legal TV shows, not the successful men. So, I started analysing the dialogue of women on Suits and I found a really meaningful scene between Donna, the receptionist, and Rachel, the paralegal. I’ll read that to you now. It’s really great.
He’s into me.
Um, are you here? He was into me.
Uh, haven’t you heard? Then why was I the one getting all the stares?
Sorry, haven’t you heard? Go after the second-prettiest to get the prettiest’s attention.
Oh, are you saying I’m the second prettiest?
Fails the Bechdel Test, but such a moving scene. Because of this scene, I’ve tried to change my conversations with women to be more about men and what they think we look like. But it’s really difficult because at Sydney Uni [whispers] there are loads of feminists.
Another great show is The Good Wife. In it, Alicia Florrick has an affair with Will Gardner, a partner at her law firm, and starts getting more cases. Point being – screw your way to the top, ladies. My boyfriend is here today and he is totally supportive of that. Thanks, babe.
Boston Legal taught me the most important lesson of all: that as a woman in law, you need to be hot while moving sexily to a theme song. So I’m now going to show you how I walk around the law school. [Struts across the stage to audience laughter.] Sometimes I’m late for class, but it’s important.
To finish off, I’ve just written a little song about what TV has really taught me.
TV taught me – oh wait. All right. Here we go.
[Sings] TV taught me everything about law and how to succeed. As a woman, I need to never eat and always peopleplease. TV taught me to sleep with my boss if I want to get ahead and to always have makeup on my face as soon as I’m out of bed because you need to be hot, hot, hot, hot, hot.