JB Smoove Shares Great Larry David Stories, Picks Super Bowl Winner
The longtime standup comic has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows, including a little show called “Curb Your Enthusiam,” where he played the great Leon Black.
He’s currently starring in the hit CBS sitcom, “The Millers,” and has a hilarious show on MSG Network called, “Four Courses with JB Smoove.” You can see Thursday night’s episode at 11:30 p.m. ET after the Cavs-Knicks game.
OK, let’s get into this Q&A. If you’re fan of “Curb” you’re going to love his inside stories about the show. He also weighs in on Richard Sherman, who will win Super Bowl XLVIII, and why he’s afraid of the people who shoot T-shirts out of cannons at sporting events.
1. Your character on “Curb” is one of the best characters in TV history. How did Leon come to happen?
J.B: Leon touches a certain type of person, not everyone gets him but the ones that do love him. Everyone knows a dude like Leon.
Back when I was on “SNL” I wasn’t sure if my contract was going to get renewed. Back then I used to watch “Curb” religiously and just thought it was a great show. One day I was with my finance, who is now my wife, and we were watching the show. I said “I love this show and I want to be on it some day.” My fiancee said, “One day you will be on that show because you say crazy stuff like that all the time.” A short time later I didn’t get my “SNL” deal renewed and away I went. Less than two months later I was on the set of “Curb” and on the show. I think the world works in funny ways. When you speak directly at things and don’t say you’re going to try to do something or that you hope do something, the universe will work with you. Think about it this way — a boomerang goes out and comes back to you if you throw it. If you throw it out at the universe it will come back down to you on earth. I threw a boomerang into the universe and it came around and gave me an opportunity to work on a show that I truly loved and I got to work with Larry David
It all goes back to when my fiancee said that I said it’s going to happen.
Here’s how the opportunity itself happened. “SNL” went away so I was free as a bird. This all happens within a month or two. A friend of mine passed away in L.A. and I went out there for his funeral. He was a music producer and did the song “This Is How We Do It.” He was one of my biggest fans and a very good friend. While I was in L.A. I met with my new agent, who was in L.A. I’m in the office with my new agent talking about what I want to do next. Another agent came in late and said, “How long are you town?” I said two days. He said great, there was a show that wanted me to audition for a role. The show? “Curb.” I said, “This is crazy.”
So I go to the audition and when I go to an audition I show up as the character I’m going to be playing. I walk into the room as Leon, with the head twist and the Leon stroll. I went nose-to-nose with Larry and said “OK, Larry. Let’s do this. I don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s all improv. I might even hit you in the face!” The whole room was laughing. Larry was just starring at me like “Who the f— is this guy?” He started cracking up and I did the character the whole time.
I leave the audition and drive back to my hotel. My agent called and asked how it went. I said, “Hey if anybody else gets the role, God bless ’em. But we had a great time.”
I leave L.A. because I have to go do a comedy gig in Pittsburgh. I go to Pittsburgh and it’s just a terrible snow storm. I had to drive an hour and a half to do the comedy show. The weather is terrible and we cancel the show. Being from New York I know I have to get out of Pittsburgh before more snow comes or I’m going to be stuck in the boonies. So I book a flight and drive to the airport.
As I’m driving my agent calls and I think he wants to talk about the show I just cancelled. He said, “You got ‘Curb.'” I’m like WHAT!? He goes, “They say they want you to start working next week.” I say, “I’m on a highway in the snow going 30 mph.” He says, “Go 15 mph, get to airport safely, and get to L.A.”
On the first day Larry says it feels like we’ve been working together forever. First time we filmed we clicked on camera.
So later on we do a wrap party at the end of the season. At the wrap party they have this thing called a gag reel playing on a big screen where they play all of the outtakes from the season.
Guess what song is playing at the start of the gag-reel video? “This Is How We Do It.” Isn’t it crazy? My wife and I looked at each other and we were just like “Wow.”
If my buddy never passed away I would never have been in L.A. I would have never had been there to audition for Curb. If I had been renewed by “SNL” I wouldn’t have had the chance to work on “Curb.” It’s just deep how the world works. You don’t know how it works ’til you throw things out there. You can’t wait for things to come to you. You have to go.
2. What’s your best Larry David story?
JB: A few years ago I was going to the “Movie 43” premiere. I’m getting off the highway and I’m driving down Highland Blvd. in Hollywood. I know Larry’s car. The whole 4-5 blocks to the premiere I’m following a Prius that looks just like Larry’s punk-ass car. My wife and I started laughing. I’m saying stuff like, “Look at Larry David and his punk-ass car.” I used to call it a roller coaster car. I always laugh at his car. He’s one of those guys who’s all concerned about the environment. Not me. I drive a big Dodge truck. I drive American cars. So we turn into the parking garage near where the movie premiere is, I get out of the car, help my wife out, and start walking to the building where the movie’s being shown. I see it’s Larry getting out of the car and I go, “HEEEEYYYYY!” He always says hey to me. I say, “Larry, I’ve been driving behind you the whole time, I knew it was your punk-ass car.” We walked the block-and-a-half to the movie and you would have thought people on the street were seeing Amos & Andy or Laurel & Hardy walking down the street. People couldn’t believe we were just walking down the street. I was so happy to see Larry and we were having so much fun walking to the movie. I was saying all kinds of crazy stuff to him. People couldn’t believe we were just acting like we do on the show but we were just being regular people walking down the street.
3. When is “Curb” coming back?
JB: Larry has things that he has always wanted to do and is marking things off his list. He did a movie with HBO last year called “Clear History” that I was fortunate to be a part of. There’s no word on if “Curb” is coming back or not. I’m thinking it’s a possibility but it’s been a long time (since the show has been on) at this point. I’d love to work with him again. I hope “Curb” comes back but there might be bigger and better things on the horizon. Maybe Barack Obama isn’t the first Barack Obama. Maybe there’s another guy who has to be inspired by all this. Maybe some other guy is gonna have the new “Curb.”
4. Let’s say somehow you were playing in the Super Bowl and scored a TD. What would be your celebration?
JB: I think I would just run around, maybe start at one end of stadium and just run. There’s just something about running. I think it’s a black thing because when something is really funny we all just run around. I would run into the stands and buy a hot dog and then run back on the field. Something where people wonder where I’m going and then I come back on field with a hot dog and say, “You see that play? YOU SEE WHAT I DID?!” I might even just take off my uniform and run into the locker room in my underwear.
If it was a game-winning TD I’d spike the ball, run full speed to locker room, change into my street clothes, and just run out to the bus.
5. What did you think of Richard Sherman’s emotional interview after the NFC title game?
JB: Sometimes you can’t control yourself. You’re in a battle! I’m sure back in the Greek days or the Roman Empire days when guys fought in arenas and were fighting lions people were talking smack. Every era in history has someone talking smack. No way you can have talent and not proclaim your victory. There’s no way in hell you wouldn’t run around talking smack, “Who’s the best warrior?!” Everybody has that guy. If I was warrior back then I’d be talking trash. I would beat an opponent and run and do the Lambeau Leap into that stadium. I’d jump right over that concrete wall and into the crowd. They didn’t know what the Lambeau Leap was back then but I’d invent it. I’d be doing the Lambeau Leap in Roman Times. I just beat a lion, think I’m not gonna brag?
6. What is JB Smoove afraid of?
JB: I’m afraid one thing — I don’t like heights. Heights bug me out. I’m not cool with heights. I refuse to do a comedy show 12 stories up. I’m fearless about everything else. As long as I’m in control of it I’m not afraid of anything. I’ll race cars, anything. I don’t trust anyone more than my damn self. I have to be hands-on with everything. I will never parasail, bungee jump, sky dive … anything like that. If I had to I’d learn how to fly a plane by my damn self. If I’m in control of something I have no fear. I’m always in attack mode. I like to move forward.
7. Who’s the most annoying person in sports?
JB: Those guys that jump and dunk with trampolines (at basketball games) and run and do split dunks. I hate those dudes. I’m also afraid of those T-shirt cannon shooters. I feel like one day I’ll be shot in the head by them. I always flinch because I don’t know where they’re shooting the shirts. Has anyone ever been hurt by those guys? If they combine them two together that will be the day I charge the court and tackle ’em.
8. Who’s the sexiest professional athlete (male or female) out there today?
JB: You ever see a beautiful thoroughbred? A beautiful horse that’s about to win you a million dollars? Nothing like a sexy-ass horse that can win you a million dollars, baby.
9. Your new show on MSG Network takes place during a meal. You’re on death row. You get one last meal. What’s the meal?
JB: Peach cobbler baby. It’s a dessert but if you’re gonna go down you have to go down with your favorite. Give me some peach cobbler with a scoop of ice cream. That’s it, I’m good. If you got to go, go with a sweet taste in your mouth. I know some people will say steak. Why? You want the most tasteful thing you can have. I would kill a peach cobbler. With a scoop of ice cream. You ever have peach cobbler?
10. What’s your Super Bowl prediction?
JB: Cloudy with a chance of snow. This is gonna be a hard one. I still can’t believe they’re playing it in the cold. I’m a New Yorker and I know you don’t play around with winter in New York. You don’t know what’s going to happen.
I have two things going on in my head — the best defense vs. the best offense. Either they cancel each other out or it’s going to be a low-scoring game. If Beast Mode can’t run it’s basically gonna be low scoring. And if the secondary can hold Peyton down it’s gonna be a low-scoring game. I’m thinking low scoring because of the cold. If it’s windy, too, that’s gonna hurt the passing. To me this could be one of the lowest scoring Super Bowls ever. There won’t be over 21 points scored. If they get a snowstorm it’s gonna be a mess. I want Peyton to win so bad but if Beast Mode is working it will keep Peyton off field. If they can’t stop Marshawn the game’s gonna be over. But, there’s no 12th man in New York for Seattle. There’s no home crowd there getting them pumped up.
I’m going to pick Denver because I do want Peyton to win another one so he can be in the higher echelon of QBs. I think Seattle will be back there again, but I’m not sure about Peyton and the Broncos. He might not have many more chances at it with the injury he had. I’ll go with Peyton and the Broncos but with an asterisk — if Beast Mode is running and they can’t stop him it’s gonna be all Seattle.