Astoria Characters: The Lawyer With the Funny Side Job

You wanna hear something funny?

Comedian Matt Storrs named his petulant 6-year-old Dachshund after a wheel of cheese.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Matt is a lawyer and a comedian.

Commandant Cameron Quincy Camembert, Cam for short, is throwing a tantrum that’s as long as his alliterative appellation.

Matt, whose curly coppery locks are the same color as Cam’s, takes a bite out of a carrot and offers it as a treat.

But Cam’s no fool: He holds out for a piece of meat.

It isn’t until Matt picks him up that sausage dog Cam becomes Cam the Ham, staring adoringly into his daddy’s big grey eyes.

You wanna hear something even funnier?

Matt’s not only a comedian.

He’s also a lawyer.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Cam takes Matt for a walk.

This is no joke.

Matt takes both very seriously.

Having these dual roles isn’t as far-fetched as it seems.

Matt, in fact, knows several other lawyers who do comedy shows.

“Every lawyer secretly wants to be a comedian,” he says. “The skill sets are the same, whether you’re making an argument in court to get a favorable verdict or making an argument in a comedy club to make someone laugh.”

Matt, an employee of the federal government who helps people get approved for Social Security disability benefits, is a newcomer to Astoria.

The son of lawyers who handle criminal cases, Matt was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, which is where Cam, who is begging for attention yet again, was found as a puppy wandering alone in the desert.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Matt’s comedy routines are based on personal experiences.

By the time he was in middle school, Matt started getting interested in comedy.

“I connected with people through humor,” he says. “I liked to make people laugh.”

His interest blossomed at Arizona State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing with minors in sociology and business. His law degree is from Arizona Summit Law School.

“There wasn’t a lot of opportunity to perform if, like me, you were under 21,” he says, adding that it was around that time that he started doing something else that was considered funny: He baked to ward off law school stress and shared the homemade cookies with his classmates and comedian pals.

Everybody called him That Guy That Bakes All the Time.

Speaking of time, the bedroom of Matt’s small apartment, which he shares not only with Cam but also with a partner, has a wall of clocks.

They are all set at different times.

“When I was studying for the bar, I had to be hyper-focused,” he says. “I got obsessed with time. I bought a clock for every room because I wanted to recognize how much time had passed.”

Eventually, people got the idea that he liked clocks, and he started getting them as gifts.

How many clocks does he have?

He’s not sure, and the lawyer side of him wants to be precise, so he calls up a photo of them on his iPhone and counts.

Let’s see, there’s the one shaped like an apple that has the correct time, there’s the cuckoo clock, there’s the big red one that he always sets five to seven minutes ahead … there are 20.

The clocks tick quietly — he’s only had to mute one loud chimer.

“They are more than décor,” he says. “They allow me to choose what time I want it to be.”

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Matt and Cam are from Phoenix.

Matt’s first job out of college was with a firm that specialized in family law.

“They wrote into my contract that I would bake and bring cookies to the office a certain number of times per year,” he says. “They told me it was a joke, but I told them that I would adhere to the contract, and I did.”

Despite the home-baked cookies, that job only lasted six months.

“I was brand new and trying to get up to speed,” he says. “I couldn’t bring in any new clients because I was in my 20s and didn’t know anyone who was getting divorced or who had children.”

Dejected by his defeat, Matt turned to comedy: If he couldn’t laugh, at least he could make others do so.

 Ultimately, he took a job with his parents’ firm.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Matt hosts a show at QED.

“I really wanted to have a good work/life balance,” he says, something that’s impossible when you’re in criminal law. “And I wanted the flexibility to pursue comedy. I started looking for a government institution or a business that needed an in-house counsel.”

A fellow comedian/lawyer told him about an opening in the Phoenix Social Security office.

Matt got the job and set his sights on Manhattan, where he had done a couple of comedy shows.

Two years later, in 2018, he transferred to the New Jersey office and moved to Astoria.

In 2019, he transferred again, this time to the Manhattan office.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Matt’s happy with his work/life balance.

Matt, who hosts a storytelling show at QED titled “How Was It,” bases his routines on personal experiences.

“I think of things I go through, odd interactions, something I said or did years ago,” he says.

One of his new shows, “No Bones About It,” is based on his lifelong love of dinosaurs.

 Law and comedy – wouldn’t this would make a terrific title for a TV sitcom? – remain Matt’s passions.

“For now, my preference is to do both,” he says, adding that if he works for a couple more years in public service, he can take advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to dissolve his substantial college debt. “I like the flexibility of my job. There are days at work that I’m truly helping people. If comedy comes to the forefront, I’m up for it. But I’m also comfortable with balance.”

Copyright 2023 by Nancy A. Ruhling