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Laughing all the way from the bank: James Smith

Laughing all the way from the bank: James Smith

Touring with John Mayer, sharing a stage with Robin Williams, performing for former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and appearing on television show Flight of the Conchords is a long way for James…

Touring with John Mayer, sharing a stage with Robin Williams, performing for former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and appearing on television show Flight of the Conchords is a long way for James Smith to have come after originally embarking on a career as a banking and finance lawyer.

Now a comedian who performs up to six shows a night in New York and around the US, Smith made the career jump when he found working as a lawyer didn't give him an outlet for his creativity and love of public speaking.

But Smith, 34, has no regrets about completing a law degree and says it has helped him succeed as a comedian.

"With law you look at a set of problems, you identify the issues and then apply the relevant law for an outcome. It's the same structure for jokes and you look at a situation and look for the most outstanding issues and then apply the comedic twist," he says.

The career transition was not without its challenges though, says Smith, especially the change in lifestyle.

"You go from what is the pinnacle so far in your life - you're sitting there with a beautiful harbourside corner office in Sydney, Australia, life doesn't really get much better than that - then you've got to go from that literally to pubs to talk to audiences that are disinterested and distracted for no money and the whole time your brain is trying to process what happened," he says.

"No one cares whether you were a lawyer, it's just 'Are you funny?'."

In Australia, Smith's career blossomed and he appeared on tv shows such as Rove and The Footy Show as well as in the Melbourne Comedy Festival, but five years ago he moved to the bright lights of New York.

He says that going to New York returned him to a lifestyle of constant entertainment, which he likens to being back at Bond University. There he studied, hosted law balls, residences' dinners and comedy debates and was also given the opportunity to go to Princeton University for the World Debating Championships.

"I love the buzz and energy [of New York] and I love the urban living and there is always something happening. You can get booked for a show at 2am and there's people there listening, it's a 24-hour city - it's so much fun. New York is like Disneyland for adults," he says.

Smith says it's wonderful being able to do what you want every day.

"I wake up tomorrow and the only thing I have to do is make sure that I write the jokes that I want to tell. I get to be writer, producer, director and performer - there are no restrictions on me," he says.

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Laughing all the way from the bank: James Smith
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