“[Judge Jackson] did improv at Harvard.”
New York Magazine

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Inside the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chairman Dick Durbin bangs his gavel.

DICK DURBIN (D-IL): We now begin the confirmation hearing of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Judge Jackson, your opening statement.

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: I am Ketanji Brown Jackson. I have two Harvard degrees, nine years’ experience on the federal bench, and I am the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court. Also, I did improv in college.

DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Thank you. Senator Graham, you are recognized.

LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Judge Jackson, you are seeking a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States, where your opinions will affect the life of every American—and the fabric of America itself. So on behalf of the American people, I ask: What is your opinion on short-form versus long-form improv?"

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: I adore both. Doesn’t everyone?

The Senate Judiciary Committee murmurs approval.

LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Indeed we do, Judge Jackson. Indeed we do. And in your opinion, which is the best Harold opening: pattern game or organic?


Disapproving mutters from Republicans.

LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Now, as we are all aware, organic openings are mostly just saying “woo-OO-osh” while running around stage waving your arms. As a future Supreme Court Justice, did you say “woo-OO-osh” while running around stage waving your arms?


The Republicans explode.


TED CRUZ (R-TX): You philistine!

CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): Organic openings are weird!

DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Order! Senators, please! This is the world’s greatest deliberative body. Naturally, we are all desperate to hear the Supreme Court nominee’s opinions on improv comedy. But we must maintain decorum. Senator Grassley, you have the floor.

CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): Thank you. Judge Jackson, I’d like to address the matter of warm-ups. Have you ever played “Big Booty”?

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: Senator, I do not recall “Big Booty.”

CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): Then let me jog your memory. “Big Booty” is the game where you sit in a circle and chant, “Big booty, big booty, big booty.”

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: Then I am not familiar with “Big Booty.”

The Republicans gasp.

CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): Your Honor, am I to understand you have never sat in a circle chanting, “Big booty, big booty, big booty”?

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: I have never sat in a circle chanting, “Big booty, big booty, big booty.”

The Republicans erupt in outrage.

LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This hearing is a sham!

DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Objection! Yet again, my Republican colleagues are obstructing proceedings with inane questions about “Big Booty”—when we all know the best warm-up is “Zip Zap Zop”!

Cheers from Democrats.

CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): The Senator from California has woefully underestimated the greatness of “Big Booty”!

DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): The senior Senator from Iowa needs to respect “Zip Zap Zop”!

CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): “Big Booty” forever!

DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): “Big Booty” is trash!


The chamber descends into chaos. Dianne Feinstein tries to slap Chuck Grassley, but Amy Klobuchar restrains her.


CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): This nominee is dangerously unqualified. If she hopes ever to ascend to the Supreme Court, she has but one option: to perform a hilarious scene.

DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Preposterous! The Judge has a proven record of hilarious scenes!

LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We demand more hilarious scenes!

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: I could offer my opinion on abortion—

ALL REPUBLICANS: (chanting) Scene work! Scene work! Scene work!

DICK DURBIN (D-IL): ORDER! ORDER! Judge Jackson, how do you answer?

Judge Jackson rises. A hush falls over the committee.

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: Fine. I’ll do a scene.

DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Excellent. The floor is open for scene work. Can I get a volunteer?

Everyone’s hands shoot up.

CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Oh, oh, oh! Pick me! Pick me!

DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Senator Leahy.


Patrick Leahy rises. His whole life has led to this moment.

PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): By day, I am Senate president pro tempore. By night I “yes, and.”

CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): A Democrat?? This scene is rigged!

DICK DURBIN (D-IL): All right! We will add a Republican. Senator Blackburn.

Marsha Blackburn rises.

MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): I will seize this opportunity to focus on “game.”

DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Great. Now, can I get a suggestion of a relationship?

LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Husband-wife!

CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Mother-daughter!

CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Rosario Dawson-Senator!

DICK DURBIN (D-IL): I heard “mother-daughter.”


Judge Jackson pulls out two chairs. She and Marsha Blackburn sit.

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: Mother, I’m so glad you took me to this restaurant.

The Democrats chuckle. The Republicans sit stone-faced.

MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Yes, and… it is your sixth birthday.

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: Yes, and… I’m wondering where the waiter is.

Patrick Leahy enters.

PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): Hello. It is me, the waiter. Tonight we have spaghetti and corn.

MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Yum! Waiter, I’ll have the corn.

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: And waiter… I’ll have what she’s having.

The whole committee bursts into wild laughter, then thunderous applause.

DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Stunning character work, Madam Justice. Just stunning.

LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): (wiping a tear) Oh my stars, that tickled me!

CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): Judge Jackson, we do not agree on the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, or democracy. But by God, we agree on improv.

LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): You are the most qualified nominee this committee has ever seen.

CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): We confirm you unanimously.

Ted Cruz nods. We see his haircut is normal and in no way resembles a mullet.

TED CRUZ (R-TX): I am inspired. Effective immediately, I resign from the Senate to pursue my true passion: improv comedy.

The rest of the Senate appears.



The chamber erupts in cheers. Dick Durbin throws his gavel in the air. Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein kiss passionately.