about the Follies

What is it?

A traditional, annual performance of musical parody and legal/political satire.

Who does this?

Court interpreters, judges, defense lawyers, prosecutors, court reporters, law clerks, and other court personnel from the US District Court, Southern District of New York, and environs. Many performers have passed through the Courthouse Follies over our 20+ years; some Follies alumni have gone on to some of the most prestigious comedy venues in the land — such as the U.S. Supreme Court.

Is it funny?

No, it isn’t merely funny. It’s hilariously funny.

Tell me more.

Gladly. For each show’s script, the authors come up with a story line, typically with two plot threads. We string together a dozen scenes, each with some dialogue and a song. The songs are borrowed from Broadway, pop or jazz repertoire and set to new lyrics. The jokes are a combination the political, based on current events, and in-humor satirizing the legal system. Our audiences laugh their asses off all the way through it.

What does the NSA think of the Follies?

“We ought to come up with a way of stopping it.” — General Keith Alexander

How do you pay your not inconsiderable expenses for refreshments, the accompanist, and so on?

With your generous donations, which we gratefully accept by any of the following methods:

  • secure online payment by credit card or PayPal account
  • check payable to “Courthouse Follies”, either via the mail or hand-delivered to The Interpreters Office, Room 280, US District Court at 500 Pearl St.
  • cash, hand-delivered to the above

How did all this begin?

It began in the fall of 1993 when the venerable Nancy Festinger, head of the SDNY Interpreters Office, collaborated with court reporter Albi Gorn to put on a show for the amusement of court interpreters attending a conference in New York. It was so well-received that we did it again for the general court community in December.

We did the show for 19 consecutive years.  Eventually Albi retired and Steve Statsinger, then a trial lawyer with the Federal Defenders, began working with Nancy. When Nancy died in October 2012, none of us was in any condition to consider putting on the show without her, and so there was no show that year. Soon thereafter, of course, we realized that the most fitting way to honor her memory was obvious: go on with the show. To that end, David Mintz — one of the staff interpreters — assumed a greater role in directing, producing, and collaborating with Steve Statsinger on the script. The Follies tradition has thus continued, with our 22nd annual performance taking place on December 4, 2015.