Though it first aired over a year ago, a certain Saturday Night Live episode still has some in the court reporting industry laughing – others fuming.
A clip titled Court Stenographer featured comedic actor Fred Armisen as Ms. Gnett, an uptight, rather flaky court reporter, and Mad Men actor Jon Hamm as a frustrated attorney. Anyone familiar with the day-to-day workings of a courtroom will first notice that Ms. Gnett is using a typewriter, rather than a stenograph machine. The loud click-clack of the keys proves immediately distracting to both the witness on the stand and Hamm’s character.
When asked why she’s using a typewriter, she responds that she doesn’t know how to use a steno machine. But that’s just the first of her professional mishaps.
“Hold on, hold on,” she says, interrupting testimony and digging through her oversized bag. “I can’t find my crackers.”
Moments later, she interrupts testimony again, citing the need for a “giggle break.”
By this time, Hamm’s character has had it, so he approaches the judge’s bench to complain.
“No one is good at their job,” counters the judge, played by Kenan Thompson. “I mean you’re not a good lawyer. I’m not a good judge. This jury doesn’t look like they know what they’re doing. But who cares? We’re just figuring out if people go to jail or not.”
Therein lies the ire of many a court reporter. Some say that the clip mocks the court reporting profession. Others argue that it’s done all in fun, yet simultaneously underlines the importance of a court reporter‘s job. After all, there’s nothing funny about sending someone to jail.
What do you think? Did the iconic variety show overstep a boundary? Or should court reporters have a sense of humor about it? Watch the clip and post your thoughts.