JB Smoove is one of those rare comedians who can make you laugh without uttering a word, which makes his new turn as an author simply unfair for the rest of the field.
In the voice of his beloved “Curb Your Enthusiasm” alter-ego Leon Black, referred to as a “modern-day Ruckus-Damus, he has written “The Book of Leon,” a tome of side-splitting advice and trash talk that would rival Lavar Ball.
“Everybody knows a Leon,” Smoove says of the slick slacker who has become a perpetual tenant in Larry David’s guest house on the HBO series. “Leon comes in all colors, shapes and forms. He’s a dude that lives day to day. He’s that one friend you call for good and bad advice. They suck you into their world. They’re the person you take with you to fight a ticket, to break up with a girl, to get a girl, to quit your job, to cuss your boss out. He’s all things to all people.”
“I think that’s what Larry loves about him so much on the show,” he added. “If Larry comes up with something crazy, sometimes Leon jumps on board and goes crazy too, or sometimes he tries to give Larry another view or another way of handling something. I always try to give an opposite take to Larry’s craziness so I can create these moments between us that are genuine and character related.
With rumors that “Curb” may be at an end, Smoove doubted his character would be given his own series.
“Like in the ‘Seinfeld’ years, when they spun off Kramer, it wasn’t as successful as everybody thought it would be,” he reasoned. “I think it’s one of those things. You get this magic with two characters. You can’t split them up. They are destined to be to be together.”
Smoove has created a unique brand that has opened opportunities touring; in movies like “Almost Christmas” and “Barbershop;” filmed TV shows like the now canceled “Real Husbands of Hollywood;” animated properties like “The Simpsons” and “American Dad;” and even commercial campaigns for McDonald’s and Crown Royal.
“They crowned me the King of Flavor,” he boasted of his hilarious ads for the popular liquor. “I use that [purple] pouch for everything. They should make that bag big enough to carry your laundry in!”
“I’m amazed at some of the stuff I’ve done,” said the comic actor who has two films in the can: “The Polka King” with Jack Black and “Going Places” with John Turturro reprising his Jesus Quintana role from “The Big Lebowski.”
“I’m just trying to remain consistent,” Smoove said. “Money’s going to come. Fame is going to come. At the same time, I don’t want to be A-list. I don‘t want to be that guy who can’t go to a restaurant or an amusement park with his kids. I like working in my damn yard. Driving my damn RV to a resort and hanging out. I’m really a North Carolina born dude who lives in New York and L.A. who stops and talks to you in the airport — who loves all the fun things about being a comedian.”
He also looks to challenge himself, whether in comedy or drama, and feels he would be perfect playing the late Dick Gregory in a biopic.
“I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised at the things I’m going to be working on in the next phase,” he said of his moves after the new year. “I love being in control of my destiny. I love being able to say yes or no and just do JB.”
MUST SEE CINEMA: “The Rape of Recy Taylor,” director Nancy Buirski’s moving documentary of a 24-year-old black mother and sharecropper who was gang raped by six white boys in Alabama in 1944, opens Dec. 8 at the Laemmle Santa Monica. Taylor was one of the few women in the Jim Crow South to speak up and identify her rapists.
The NAACP sent its chief rape investigator Rosa Parks, who rallied support and triggered an unprecedented outcry for justice. Prepare to be brought to tears.
CLIPPETTES: The Black Rock Coalition LA presents a Jimi Hendrix Birthday Celebration on Dec. 8 at Trip in Santa Monica with Angelo Moore & Norwood Fisher (Fishbone), Frankie “Kash” Waddy (Parliament-Funkadelic), Jimi’s “Lady Love” Rosa Lee Brooks and more. Also that evening, Leslie Odom Jr. brings cheer at the Walt Disney Concert Hall …
With the next “Shaft” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Jesse T. Usher (“Survivors Remorse”) as his son set for a 2019 opening comes word that remakes of so-called “Blaxploitation” classics “Super Fly” and “Cleopatra Jones” are on the way …
The 27th annual Divas Simply Singing! benefit for HIV/AIDS awareness is set for Dec. 9 at the Taglyan Cultural Center with special guests Jennifer Holliday, Kenny Lattimore, Rahsaan Patterson, Jenifer Lewis, Thelma Houston and a host of divas …
To recognize its 50th anniversary, “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” starring Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy, Isabel Sanford and Katherine Hepburn (who won an Oscar for Best Actress) returns to movie theatres on Dec. 10 and 13 as part of the TCM Big Screen Classics Series. Visit www.FathomEvents.com for info …
Kehlani & Friends Tsunami Christmas will be held on Dec. 11 at The Novo …
For the first time in its history, voting for the 49th NAACP Image Awards will be open to the public at www.naacpimageawards.net. Here’s your opportunity to vote for your favorite nominees in 36 different categories across film, television, and music through Dec. 15 …
“The Heart of Robin Hood,” a retelling of the legend from British writer David Farr (BBC’s “The Night Manager”) is in production through Dec. 17 at The Wallis with daring acrobatics, outrageous comedy, soul-stirring songs from a live band led by Icelandic pop singer Salka Sól, and Luke Forbes (“Atlanta”) starring as the archer …
TASTY QUIP: “The strongest thing a man can do is cry. To expose your feelings, to be vulnerable in front of the world, that’s real strength. You know, you feel like you gotta be this guarded person. That’s not real. It’s fake.” – JAY-Z to the NY Times
TC ON TV: Dec. 10 – “You Can’t Fight Christmas” (TV1): Brély Evans, Andra Fuller, Persia White, Richard Gant and Marla Gibbs star in this new holiday tale. “Guy’s Big Project” (Food): Tonight we find out if finalist Rashad “RJ” Jones and his “Eat, Sleep, BBQ” concept can bring home the bacon. “The Walking Dead” (AMC): Uh Oh! Producers are promising heads will roll in this fall finale.
Dec. 12 – “Finding Your Roots” (PBS): “Southern Roots” looks at the family trees of Questlove, Dr. Phil and Charlayne Hunter-Gault.
Dec. 14 – “Taraji’s White Hot Holidays” (Fox): With Fergie, Ciara, DJ Khaled, Chaka Khan, Faith Evans, Jussie Smollett, Salt-N-Pepa, Ying Yang Twins, Taye Diggs, Jay Pharoah, Method Man, Tituss Burgess and Niecy Nash. “Showtime at the Apollo: Christmas” (Fox): Steve Harvey and Adrienne Houghton (“The Real”) co-host this all-new holiday edition featuring performances by Snoop Dogg & Boyz II Men, Fifth Harmony and DMX.
TASTY QUIP: “I feel an imperative in the digital age to happen in real life. I don’t care if they can’t take my picture because I’ve never seen Paul Bunyan, but I know who the … he is. You gotta make ’em talk about you; you gotta make ’em experience you. Happen in real life. Know for yourself what it feels like. And then you too can become a superhuman empathetic person. You can care about people you never met, and worry about problems you don’t even have.” – DAVE CHAPPELLE via Instagram
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tastyclips.