J.B. Smoove Interview: ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

“When I started doing stand-up the first thing I ever did was take an improv class in 1992,” reflects “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star J.B. Smoove. In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), he says “who would know that I’d put that little tool in my tool box? That I’d be in the greatest improvised show in television history?”

Smoove joined “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in Season 6, playing Leon Black, the confident uninvited house guest of Larry David. His brazen energy and unlikely companionship with Larry has made Leon a fan favorite character. In 2017 a Leon Black book was published and Season 9 marked Smoove’s first as a series regular. Smoove is not taking anything for granted: “I could have been written out just as easy as I was written in. Although I thought I was anchored in because the characters of Larry and Leon have made great on-screen chemistry.”

The real life Larry was able to give Smoove a scare about the fate of Leon before the show’s return. He adds, “Larry did tell me he would kill my character off at my big birthday party. He came and was talking a lot of trash. He came on stage because he thought I was late for my own birthday. When he left the stage I say ‘Hey Larry! You’re here in front of 300 of my good friends at my big birthday bash. Everybody wants to know if ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ will return for Season 9.’ Someone had to hand Larry a microphone. Larry very clearly said ‘Yes. We will be coming back, but you get killed off in the second episode.’”

Speaking about their real life friendship Smoove explains that “Larry appreciates when you check on him. So anytime I’m riding round L.A. and I’m near his office I go in and I talk to Larry about anything and everything I can squeeze in. Larry has a very short patience. You got to get in there. Hit him a few times like a boxer; give him a few jabs then get out of the way. You leave him with a question and just walk away to keep him on his toes. I’d ask him, ‘Hey man, what kind of lady are you looking for?’ I’d let him start to answer and just fade off. Allow him to speak to himself. Sometimes you gotta answer to yourself before you answer to the person. He has a genuine smile when I walk into the room. I feel the friendship and I feel the love.”

Smoove says, “The fun thing about Leon’s character is we don’t know where the hell he came from. He’s an open book which keeps him very interesting. Every episode I make a conscious effort to try and squeeze in something new that Larry did not know about Leon. In that way, I am not only creating something interesting for the scene; I’m creating something interesting for the whole season. I might have just planted a seed there that will bloom into this amazing tree later in the episodes. In the first episode of the season I had a scene about constipation and I said ‘constipation shouldn’t stop anyone from doing anything. I ran a 5k marathon constipated. I shot a porno constipated. I was in a hot dog eating contest constipated and I still won.’ Larry said, ‘You shot a porno?’ I didn’t answer him because that is a seed I can use for later.”

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UPLOADED May 24, 2018 2:18 pm