I had a chance to watch My Cousin Vinny on television the other night and was reminded how humor is such a powerful storytelling tool. How many times do we remember important concepts because the speaker or writer makes us laugh? Tickling our funny bones is a great way to convey ideas and keep the audience coming back for more. In the case of this 1992 movie starring Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei, we have screenwriter Dale Launer to thank for lines that never seem to go out of style. He inspires us with his tale of a hero and heroine who never give up in the pursuit of justice.
Grab the popcorn. The movie is worth seeing again for entertainment. However, it turns out that lawyers use the movie for training purposes. As Mental Floss executive editor points out in “29 Fun Facts About My Cousin Vinny,” educators and litigators employ this celluloid textbook to “discuss criminal procedures, courtroom decorum, professional responsibility, unethical behavior, the role of the judge in a trial, efficient cross-examination, the role of expert witnesses and effective trial advocacy.” That’s a lot of value for two hours of viewing time.
Whether we appear in a courtroom, an office, a classroom or elsewhere, we are almost always trying to persuade others. Adding humor can’t hurt and many times can help.