Comedian Sam Smith on swapping dentistry for comedy and sharing his name with a pop star

Comedian Sam Smith on swapping dentistry for comedy and sharing his name with a pop star.
Sam Smith Photo credit: supplied

Sam Smith has had to overcome a fair amount of adversity to get to where he is today, as the latest comedian to join the 7 Days panel.

A multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 2015 forced him to give up his dentistry career, and has taken half his vision. But what really gets him fired up is sharing a name with an international pop star.

"I hate that guy so much," he says of the 'Stay With Me' hitmaker.

"Mainly because I'm jealous - he's such a good singer.

"All through high school, I was a singer. I had a singing scholarship at uni, and this guy comes along - and he's younger than me - and steals my thing."

Luckily for the Sam, he's actually got several 'things'. He studied to be a dentist in Dunedin, drawn to the practice by a passion for science and helping people.

He really liked his job - and getting to call himself a doctor - he says, but he always made time for comedy and music outside of work.

"I actually made the full switch to comedy when I was diagnosed with MS in 2015. My hands weren't strong enough to wiggle teeth out anymore," says Sam.

"That strength has since come back, but MS actually helped me make a career out of my hobby, which is awesome."

Multiple sclerosis presents Sam with challenges every day, like limbs that can feel like concrete and a blind spot in the middle of his right eye.

"I'm from Christchurch originally, so I'm literally a one-eyed Cantabrian," he jokes.

Still, while he wishes that MS wasn't a part of his life, he reckons he may have never made the leap to comedy without it.

Now, having moved up the ranks as a writer for 7 Days for the past eight years, as well as being the show's audience warm-up guy, Sam is finally taking a seat at the panel.

"It feels great to get a shot at being on the show," he says. "It's something I've wanted to do for a long time.

"The people I've looked up to are people I've actually worked with."

7 Days host Jeremy Corbett, team leader Dai Henwood and regular panelist Ben Hurley are all on Sam's long list of Kiwi comedy inspiration. 

As for how to tackle the ongoing issue of having your namesake stolen by a Grammy Award-winning recording artist - this Sam Smith has a plan.

"I've come to terms with the fact I can't change it, so I'm embracing it," he says.

"I'm doing a show in the Palmerston North Fringe called Sam Smith - Live in Concert. Hopefully, that will trick some people into coming."

Sam Smith will join the panel on 7 Days on Friday, August 3 at 9pm on Three.