revue

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Last year, the Sydney Law Revue, I thought, deserved noth­ing but vit­ri­ol (to the dis­may of one of the revue dir­ect­ors I happened to chance upon at a clerk­ship func­tion last year). This year, how­ever, the revue was much bet­ter and well deserving of praise: who could for­get the singing Taliban or the all-singing, all-dan­cing jury tri­al? The nud­ity was much abbre­vi­ated, how­ever, and most of the sing­ers are still impossible to under­stand. And that dis­ab­il­ity skit: what were they think­ing (giv­en that Ron McCal­lum would have had to sit through that)? Any­way, a good per­form­ance with lots of tal­ent. Well done.

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“Should I care? Should I care?”

If the ques­tion is about the Sydney Law Revue 2008, the answer is no. (The quote is from the “Hold­ing out for a US Hero” skit, the clos­ing skit.)

Last year, I wrote about the half-executed jokes that had the poten­tial to be so much fun­ni­er. I wish I could make a sim­il­ar com­ment this year. This time round, the dir­ect­ors some­how found it con­veni­ent to expend entirely with the punch­lines in jokes. Instead, it was replaced with flat, mean­ing­less driv­el so that when it got to the clos­ing, I was pretty much clap­ping out of polite­ness instead of sin­cere appre­ci­ation.

The occa­sion­al joke made in bad taste is to be expec­ted in a revue; in fact, you could say it defines a revue. Nor­mally, I’d have a good laugh at them. But giv­en that the rest of the revue was so flat, when the (bad) jokes came around, the audi­ence just didn’t buy them. We even had a heck­ler in the audi­ence — and I pretty much agreed with everything he had to shout out. At one stage, one of the back­stage mem­bers stuffed up with the mop between skits; that was almost one of the fun­ni­est moments (!).

China, with its astro­nom­ic­al growth and the Beijing Olympics just past, was an obvi­ous top­ic­al sub­ject. They didn’t fail to deliv­er on that count, but the jokes were so poorly delivered that they might have been mis­taken for blatant racism.

To regain the con­fid­ence of its audi­ence, the Law Revue in future years needs to cre­ate a coher­ent present­a­tion that car­ries some kind of energy through­out the per­form­ance. A little bit of intro­spec­tion might help; I’m sure if the dir­ect­ors actu­ally sat down and listened to some of their own jokes, they might agree that they weren’t quite so funny after all. There was no doubt some great tal­ent on stage; wheth­er this tal­ent was used most effect­ively is anoth­er ques­tion.

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There are few things that law stu­dents at Sydney Uni­ver­sity and at UNSW will defend more pas­sion­ately: the qual­ity of their respect­ive insti­tu­tions — just which law school is bet­ter?

I don’t pro­fess to have the answer to this ques­tion, because it is unfair for me to answer this ques­tion when I have only atten­ded one of them (Sydney). How­ever, surely, a recourse to stat­ist­ics would provide us with an object­ive answer?

And with stat­ist­ics, UNSW has pro­claimed them­selves the King of Law Schools in Aus­tralia. They claim:

The Fac­ulty of Law at the Uni­ver­sity of New South Wales in Sydney leads all Aus­trali­an uni­ver­sit­ies for the qual­ity of learn­ing and teach­ing law. This is the second con­sec­ut­ive year the Fac­ulty of Law, togeth­er with UNSW Aus­trali­an School of Busi­ness, has achieved the top rank­ing in the busi­ness, law and eco­nom­ics cluster.

This claim is fol­lowed by a bunch of graphs that show that UNSW scores high­er on a num­ber of met­rics, includ­ing “over­all sat­is­fac­tion”, “gen­er­ic skills” and “good teach­ing” as meas­ured by the Group of Eight. So far, this is all very con­vin­cing evid­ence that UNSW is bet­ter, right?

As Daniel poin­ted out when we were per­us­ing these graphs togeth­er, there is a fun­da­ment­al flaw with the stat­ist­ics as presen­ted. Where would they obtain meas­ure­ments for met­rics such “over­all sat­is­fac­tion” from? From their gradu­ates of course. Unless they per­formed some kind of nor­m­al­isa­tion between the dif­fer­ent uni­ver­sit­ies, the out­come is liable to be affected by, for example, the dif­fer­ence between what Sydney and UNSW law stu­dents expect from their courses (maybe Sydney stu­dents just demand more?) or bias arising from the pride that stu­dents have in their own insti­tu­tion.

Clearly, stat­ist­ics are one factor to con­sider in your choice of law school or uni­ver­sity. How­ever, it would be a mis­take to base your decision merely on these stat­ist­ics, or oth­er stat­ist­ics such as the pro­por­tion of gradu­ates in full-time employ­ment after a year (maybe more stu­dents from a par­tic­u­lar uni­ver­sity went into post-gradu­ate study?). There is more to uni­ver­sity than that. You need to con­sider the exper­i­ence out­side the classroom, in the form of clubs and soci­et­ies and extra­cur­ricular activ­it­ies. There is also a dif­fer­ence in cul­ture that you need to con­sider. This was best high­lighted for me when I watched the UNSW Law Revue last year; their jokes weren’t funny to me for the most part, yet all the UNSW-ers seemed to enjoy it; I put it down to a dif­fer­ence in cul­ture.

So what do I think? I cer­tainly don’t regret choos­ing Sydney Uni­ver­sity (for both my sci­ence and law degrees). I enjoy the intel­lec­tu­al­ism that per­vades the place, although law stu­dents at Sydney tend to be more com­pet­it­ive than I find optim­al.

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I pre­vi­ously noted that we found this clip on You­Tube that decried the lack of qual­ity of the UNSW Law Revue, or in the ver­nacu­lar, that said it was a piece of crap… but I said I couldn’t find it. Found it now — thanks Janet!

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I’ve been mean­ing to blog more reg­u­larly, but I’ve just been too busy to write stuff up for your enjoy­ment. Sorry, I lie. I’ve just been too lazy, and there’s just so much going on in my head recently, it’s hard to con­cen­trate on writ­ing a coher­ent piece of prose.

Aiya, UNSW Law Revue 2007 (entitled Poll Fic­tion) was a load of shit. A com­plete waste of a Thursday, the leaden act­ing, lame jokes that lacked even the concept of a punch-line and the bright spot­lights that seemed intent on burn­ing my ret­inas out made the night a mem­or­able event for all the wrong reas­ons. I won’t be going back any time soon la~ Fine, there were some enjoy­able skits, but the drive home (thanks Tommy!) was a more inter­est­ing exper­i­ence than the revue itself. Yeah, what he said. Daniel and I were you­tube-ing before head­ing off, and we noticed a video (now deleted? can’t find it now) from someone at Usyd blast­ing the UNSW revue for mak­ing fun of our quad and hav­ing the UNSW Galactica joke — well, there wasn’t a Usyd quad in sight, but the Galactica got a men­tion. With the Galactica joke, I think it’s more likely that there’s a mole on the UNSW team that allowed Usyd to score a hit against UNSW before their revue even star­ted.

Over the week­end, I went to Malay­sia Fest 2007 (pho­tos) and got myself a dose of Malay­si­an cul­ture. I can see why it’s true that Malay­si­ans are said to live to eat… the food, hav­ing Malay, Chinese and Indi­an influ­ences, was quite inter­est­ing and tasty =) Of course, it helped that I had a guide who lives to eat, so Ru Jih, if you actu­ally read this, many thanks for a great day out, wouldn’t have been the same without you 😛 … hope it didn’t make you too home­sick~

The oth­er thing that’s happened recently is, of course, the lun­ar eclipse. Con­clu­sion: I need a tri­pod. These black rect­angles are awful — you really can’t do a shut­ter speed longer than 1/​60s if you’re hold­ing the cam­era with your hand, and when the moon’s that dim, you’d need at least a few seconds of expos­ure. Still, it was a very beau­ti­ful thing to watch, and lit­er­ally out of this world.

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The singing, dan­cing extra­vag­anza that is the SULS Law Revue is back in town, and judging from pre­vi­ous years, this was one revue that I couldn’t miss. (I’ve also been miss­ing my daily dose of law while doing hon­ours, so I just had to go!) I still recall last year’s French Hakka, and the oh-so-wrong Kirby sing-and-dance — and both of these left me with high expect­a­tions about what my peers can do (while dressed and undressed).

Shred — the greatest story in lit­ig­a­tion ever told — star­ted with the cast telling us about Aus­trali­an val­ues in lyr­ic­al fash­ion. I had hoped for some­thing about Shrek, or even some­thing about Shred, but no, we didn’t get any­thing related to the title this year apart from a mal­func­tion­ing fax machine that hap­pens to eat doc­u­ments later on. The first half of the revue was a bit flat I thought. As many com­men­ted, the ideas behind the skits and the jokes were fant­ast­ic, but the exe­cu­tion was lack­ing: the jokes cli­maxed at the start or in the middle, the punch-lines often lack­ing. The songs were premised on what could’ve been really great ideas, but the words in them just didn’t carry the amuse­ment through­out. Law stu­dents are said to be left while at uni, and right when they start work­ing, but the Lib­er­al horse was flogged well bey­ond death dur­ing the show.

I guess they saved the best till last, for the second half almost made up for what was lack­ing in the first. The anti-pir­acy video (a par­ody of the ones you see before movies) was so hil­ari­ous (“copy­right is… a chose in action”), but accord­ing to Daniel, the idea was copied from the UQ law revue. We heard a song about the snail in the ginger beer bottle from Donoghue v Steven­son, and the Face­book pray­er (“deliv­er us from MySpace”). Back­yard Blitzkrieg trans­formed back­yards and Hitler’s words to great effect. Oh, and the nude scene… a tra­di­tion, but the best I can say about it is that it has poten­tial to be worked a little deep­er. The end­ing was a sav­ing grace though: the APEC song (to the tune of YMCA) was well writ­ten and car­ried the joke through­out.

I’d have to say that this year’s wasn’t the best Law Revue I’ve seen, but as the Dir­ect­or noted in the offi­cial pro­gramme, this year saw the depar­ture of much of the tal­ent from last year. I expect the lame, tacky or tact­less joke or two in a revue, but as with all jokes, tim­ing is of the essence. If the bet­ter skits are any­thing to go by, we should have plenty to laugh ourselves silly in com­ing years. Still, the law revue is a qual­ity pro­duc­tion, and a night well spent — I’d recom­men­ded see­ing it.

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