Yes, “Law & Order” Does Have a Comedic Side (Sometimes)

One writer shares his memories

Law & Order
Sam Waterson, Fred Thompson and Elisabeth Rohm make their exit from City Hall after shooting an episode of "Law & Order."
Todd Maisel/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

For entirely understandable reasons, the Law & Order franchise is not exactly known as a home for comedy. There are some exceptions — John Mulaney’s oft-quoted standup bit about the show comes to mind, for one thing. Frequently, though, Law & Order humor takes the form of parodies of the show as opposed to humor within the show itself —consider the title of the Adult Swim series NTSF:SD:SUV::, which ran for three seasons in the 2010s.

That isn’t to say that jokes related to the series can’t be found. In a recent essay at CrimeReads, Edward Zuckerman looked back on his time writing for the storied series. As he explains early in the essay, “I was known in-house as writing the funny episodes of Law & Order.” What does that entail?

Zuckerman explains that one of his scripts was criticized by series creator Dick Wolf for having too many jokes. “This is not a sitcom,” Zuckerman recalled Wolf telling him. “Cut half of them.”

He goes on to share his memories of changing up the traditional opening scene somewhat — in this case, having the show’s homicide detectives go to view the murder victim, who in this case is a horse. “The detectives were not amused. But I liked it,” Zuckerman wrote.

There are a number of other recollections from his career in television to be found elsewhere in the piece, including the challenges of getting a dead horse (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) on camera and the handful of times Law & Order anticipated real-life crimes instead of referencing them. All you need is a booming “DUN DUN” sound in the background for the memories to come flooding back in.

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