Comedian Fights To Hold On To His Day Job

Vince Sicari presides over traffic ticket cases, among other things, in South Hackensack, N.J. It's only a part-time position. By night, the judge moonlights as a standup comic which violates state ethics rules. Sicari has appealed to the state's highest court, arguing the public can tell the difference between his two personas.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The work of the high court justices is serious stuff, but one lower court judge wants to continue being a funny man off the bench. His lawyer argued yesterday before the New Jersey Supreme Court that Vince Sicari should be able to pursue side work as an actor and comedian. By day, he's a part-time municipal judge in South Hackensack. By night, he performs stand-up comedy under the stage name Vince August.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMEDY ROUTINE)

VINCE SICARI: Do you really hunt?

(AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

SICARI: (as Vince August) Do you hunt deer? Now, let me ask you this question, and be honest with me: Do you consider hunting a sport? It's not a sport if the other side doesn't know you're playing.

(AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

MONTAGNE: Vince Sicari, the judge, is appealing a state ethics committee ruling that he can't do both paid gigs. Yesterday, New Jersey's chief justice questioned whether Sicari's material includes, quote, "demeaning individuals based on race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status."

In fact, as an actor, he has said outrageous and even offensive things to provoke passersby, on an ABC hidden camera show. He also warms up audiences for "The Daily Show" and "Colbert Report." And, Sicari says, he always keeps his personas separate - no jokes from the bench, no mention of the law while doing standup.

So far, no punch line in the case. New Jersey's high court has yet to issue its ruling. It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

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