If you’ve ever seen JB Smoove on a comedy show or while he’s appearing in many TV shows and movies like “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” his fast-talking, high-energy style may seem like walking a tightrope. And that's no accident, Smoove explained as he talked about his return to Buffalo’s Helium Comedy Club on Oct. 13 and 14.
Last time Smoove was in Buffalo on a stand-up stage, he mimicked a car burnout sound that got huge laughs from the crowd. Spotting a callback joke, Smoove repeated the burnout riff throughout the night and kept the energy of the room high. The audience loved it. Smoove likes leaving himself lots of room for improvisation on stage. Rather than committing his written material to memory night after night, Smoove’s freestyle comedy process keeps him engaged in the show, and also makes each night unique for the audience.
“There is no script with JB Smoove,” he said. “All I have is bullet points and I make it to what it’s going to be. I’m always in the moment. I never want to be a robot onstage. That’s just my process. I like to get on stage and work with what’s given to me. If there’s a certain kind of microphone, I’ll do a bit. If there’s a certain kind a chair, how big the stage is, everything is at my disposal. That’s what makes every show unique. I really perform with a certain level of confidence in what I say, but I love that feeling of ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen.’”
Smoove’s skills onstage translate brilliantly to the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Larry David’s long-running comedy that just began its new season this month. The actors, who only know the basic direction of the story, largely improvise “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Smoove plays David’s friend Leon Black, who gives David’s misanthrope character advice (which is often poor).
“Looking back on the past 20 years of my life, this was my path to be on this kind of show,” Smoove said. “I really feel like this was supposed to happen. This is what improv is all about, creating these characters and moments within the character. I always consciously try to give Larry something new about Leon that he didn’t know, which creates these amazing moments.”
Fans of Leon Black can also look forward to Smoove’s recently released book, “The Book of Leon: Philosophy of a Fool.” Smoove wrote the book in character as Leon, who delivers a tome’s worth of funny but bad advice while bringing the Ruckus. It’s part of Smoove’s prolific workload, which includes comedy tours, a new campaign for Crown Royal and his own clothing line.
“I want it to be people who love Leon to read the book and say, ‘Oh man, this is a first-time author writing a book,’ ” Smoove said. “Every chapter, I’m talking to you like I’m talking to Larry. The book is so fun. It’s all about giving you good ‘bad advice.’ The mantra of the book is Leon: He ain’t wrong, he just ain’t right.”
7:30 and 10 p.m. Oct. 13 and 14 at Helium Comedy Club, 30 Mississippi St. Tickets are $25-$35. buffalo.heliumcomedy.com