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Just for Laughs

Greg Schaber

The next time you flip on the daytime version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” check out the faces in the audience. If they’re smiling, R.C. Smith has done his job.

Smith—known as Ron when he graduated from the theater program in 1982—is a stand-up comic and recently began working as the game show’s warm-up act, priming the audience with his humor so they’ll better enjoy the experience.

The job is not Smith’s final answer when it comes to work, however, but is really just the latest in a series of upswings for a career that’s been long in the making.

“I’ve managed to take the college lifestyle and turn it into real life,” he says. “It’s brutal getting up every day at the crack of noon. That’s why I look so young. I really don’t do anything. I have no stress.”

Smith moved to New York in 1984 to pursue an acting career and was soon “doing a lot of really bad off-, off-, off-, off-Broadway shows for free.” He switched to stand-up comedy in 1990, holding down odd jobs during the day so he could hang out in clubs until 2:00 a.m., hoping to be noticed.

“It was miserable,” he recalls. “No one knows who you are, and you’re not funny. Then one day it just clicks. Suddenly your act is developed.”

Smith now performs nationally, with regular appearances at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. He also garnered a nomination for a 2001 New York-area Emmy Award for his regular segment on “New York Central,” a weekly TV magazine.

Now with the luxury of bookings stretching well into 2003, his goal remains modest.

“I just want to keep doing what I’m doing,” he says, “and keep normal society at arm’s length.”

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