You know him as the take-no-crap, pee-in-your-pants hilarious Leon Black on HBO's 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' but what you may not know is that comedian JB Smoove didn't start his career harassing and manipulating a certain anal Larry David. Since 1999, Smoove has been paying dues and exercising his comedic chops; he's even made appearances on 'The Chris Rock Show' and 'Saturday Night Live.' The North Carolina-born, Mount Vernon, New York-raised, Los Angeles resident recently appeared in the comedy We Bought A Zoo, and is now a regular on the brand new NBC sitcom, 'Bent.' Keep up!
This month, Smoove's stand-up concert DVD, "That’s How I Dooz It" drops and lucky for us, he shares exclusively with EBONY.com about just how he dooz it all...
EBONY: You’ve been pretty busy of late. You’re in the recent film We Bought A Zoo with Matt Damon and later this year, The Dictator with Sasha Baron Cohen, you're doing voiceover work for the upcoming animated film Ice Age 4, you’re a regular on this new NBC sitcom 'Bent' and you have a new standup comedy DVD coming out next month,That’s How I Dooz It.
SMOOVE: Just keeping the fires burning man. Keeping the lights on, you know what I mean?
EBONY: Obviously JB Smoove is not your birth name. Why did you change it?
SMOOVE: Well, before I got into stand-up I used to be hip-hop dancer in a crew and my name was J Smoove and my partner was J Groove. So it was Groove and Smoove and then when I got into stand up I added a “B’ and I became JB Smoove (laughs). It’s a cool name for me though.
EBONY: Well you have to admit when people hear your name they know who it is.
SMOOVE: Exactly, man, exactly! I wanted to make sure that I’ve lived up to that also. I try to dress smooth, I try to keep my face shaved, I try to keep my head cut. I try to do all the things to keep it smooth going!
EBONY: I have to tell you that Larry David’s HBO show 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' is my absolute favorite comedy show. And what I’ve always heard about how it’s done is amazing. There’s never an actual script with dialogue for any episode. David basically writes out an outline for each show detailing the plot and all the dialogue is improvised. Is that true?
Oh sure, sure. If I had my way, I would like to do a Leon Black 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' spin-off. I think people love would to see that guy still moving and shaking it.
SMOOVE: It’s exactly that, man. We get like a six or seven page outline of the episode and we kind of fill the blanks in. But it’s as comfortable as me and you are right now. We get in there and kind of stick to our characters. And by now I know what my character would say and what he wouldn’t and that way I stay on course all the time. A lot of people get their outlines the day before, but I like to get to the set, go though the wardrobe, pick out something and just go. I don’t want to over think it. I don’t like to be over prepared.
EBONY: But I don’t think people understand just how hard improvising is. You have to think of what to say, but also listen to what the other person is saying and have to be at least the three steps ahead for what comes in response to that—and be funny all at the same time. It’s like a mental chess game.
SMOOVE: It really is. Improv relies just as much on listening as it does you delivering dialogue. That’s the hard for some people. Some people just concentrate on what they’re going to say and they’re not listening. You have to listen in order to see where the other person is going to. And that’s the genius of putting people together in that sort of situation. For certain people it’s very comfortable. I remember Larry told me one time this one actor had come with some cue notes in his pockets, and Larry took the notes and tore them up. “No cheating, no cheating!” We’re all in the same boat. I love it!
EBONY: Is the show coming back for another season? In the final scene of the last episode last season you and Larry were stuck in Paris.
SMOOVE: I don’t know. We’re all at the mercy of Larry David (laughs). Larry has put in some great years. He’s put in eight seasons, but I always told him he ought to do 10 because it’ll look great in a DVD box set (laughs). But we’ll see what happens, man.
EBONY: You’re now a regular on this new sitcom on NBC, 'Bent.' Is your goal to have your own show one day?
SMOOVE: Oh sure, sure. If I had my way, I would like to do a Leon Black 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' spin-off. I think people love would to see that guy still moving and