NEW YORK.- Okay, we*#8217;ve heard of lawyer jokes, but a funny lawyer? If you think funny and lawyer just don*#8217;t mix, meet attorney-turned comedian James Mallios. And yes, he actually is funny.
Raised in Flushing, New York, Mr. Mallios attended St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Day School, where his mother taught classes. That sometimes wasn*#8217;t a good thing, as he said he was a bit of a joker, and his mother always knew when he was in trouble with the other teachers. His father escaped from Voro Epirus and came to America, where he met his mom, who was born and raised in Brooklyn.
He organizes an annual trip to Greece and brings along his non-Greek friends, he said. *#8220;It*#8217;s a nice way of getting in touch with my culture but also sharing it with my non-Greek friends,*#8221; said Mr. Mallios.
He jokes about the Athenian snobbishness, likening them to Parisians. *#8220;It*#8217;s like they think they*#8217;re some special brand of Greek,*#8221; said Mr. Mallios, who the New York Law Journal*#8217;s Funniest Lawyer Contest in 2000,2002 and 2003, and took second place in New York Resident newspaper*#8217;s Funniest Resident Contest in 2003.
He performed at a New York Comedy Club*#8217;s Greek American comedy night in Manhattan earlier this month, which was a new experience for him, having an almost exclusively Greek audience. *#8220;Everyone was so nervous about it, they were like, *#8216;don*#8217;t be dirty, you have to be really clean,*#8217; and I got there and all the women were so dirty,*#8221; said Mr. Mallios. It*#8217;s so funny, it*#8217;s like, Greek Night, we have to be so clean in front of the Greeks, what the hell, it*#8217;s not like we*#8217;re the Brits or something, said Mr. Mallios.*nbsp;
*#8220;It*#8217;s like, have you been to the islands? Have you ever heard of Mykonos?*#8221; Mr. Mallios continued. *#8220;It*#8217;s not like we*#8217;re a quiet, demure people.*#8221;
He said it*#8217;s more likely that the comedians were afraid that someone in the audience were know their mother or father and whatever they said on stage, true or not, would get back their parents. *#8220;I think that*#8217;s what they*#8217;re really afraid of, these crazy sex stories getting back to their parents.*#8221;
He said he has aunts and uncles who may not be ready for his act.
*#8220;My dad*#8217;s seen the act, my mother hasn*#8217;t seen it,*#8221; said Mr. Mallios. *#8220;I think she*#8217;s ready for it.*#8221;
Mr. Mallios has been featured in American Lawyer Magazine and Corporate Board Member Magazine for his work as a comedian. Not exactly *#8220;People*#8221; magazine, but then, he*#8217;s not your average comedian either.
By day, he*#8217;s a securities industry labor and employment litigator, and by night a comedian. His firm represents high-level executives in the securities industry during employment and other negotiations.
The atmosphere at his office in midtown Manhattan, is a far cry from the stages of Manhattan comedy clubs. Yet he flows with ease from proving his case in the courtroom to telling jokes on stage, comfortable with both worlds, in which he sees many similarities.
*#8220;If you think about it, doing stand up is very much like litigating a case,*#8221; said Mr. Mallios. *#8220;What you*#8217;re really trying to do is get people to believe your case, to get people on your side.*#8221;
*#8220;It*#8217;s like any form of communication,*#8221; said Mr. Mallios. *#8220;As a lawyer, you want to be able to get people on your side, and as a comedian you try to read people and*nbsp; see what makes them laugh.*#8221;
Of course, he said the humor in the courtroom and in the boardroom must be tempered with the staunch seriousness of the law profession.
*#8220;Considering what will work in front of this jury is not so dissimilar then, *#8216;okay, I*#8217;m at Greek comedy night, maybe now is not the time to talk about something that my mother would not want to hear*#8212;or see printed in The National Herald.*#8221;
Being a funny guy in a law office does have its advantages, said Mr. Mallios. *#8220;Being humorous is an integral part of being persuasive,*#8221; he said, and it can also help ease the tensions that inevitably arise in negotiations. *#8220;I had a judge who loved it,*#8221; said Mr. Mallios. *#8220;She actually came to see the show.*#8221;
*#8220;There*#8217;s also a degree of keeping your mind sharp,*#8221; said Mr. Mallios. *#8220;Hecklers come at you, you have to be able to respond quickly, and in the law, people come up with arguments you don*#8217;t expect,*#8221; said Mr. Mallios.
Mr. Mallios said he was surprised by the professionalism of the comedians at the Greek Comedy Night. *#8220;I thought there*#8217;d be a lot of slipper jokes and let*#8217;s talk about yiayia*#8217;s, but I was surprised at how good they all were,*#8221; said Mr. Mallios. *#8220;They were comedians first and Greek Americans second.*#8221;
*#8220;For God sakes, didn*#8217;t we invent comedy,*#8221; said Mr. Mallios. *#8220;Was anyone even making jokes in this world before Greeks?*#8221; *#8220;If anything, I*#8217;m surprised there aren*#8217;t more Greek comedians, said Mr. Mallios.