Smoove moves: Comedian and actor said he’s at his best when unrehearsed

John Guidroz

Comedian and actor J.B. Smoove describes his stand-up routine as someone walking on a tightrope with no net.

“I’m a little bit of a wildcard,” he said. “My style has always been a sum of its parts. It’s a little bit of improv, physicality, mannerisms.”

That unpredictable comedic approach will be on full display when Smoove takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. March 13 in the Golden Nugget Casino Grand Event Center.

Smoove is likely best known for portraying Leon Black on the HBO comedy series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” He has appeared in dozens of films and television shows and was a writer and performer on “Saturday Night Live” from 2003-2005.

While onstage, Smoove said he’s at his best when unrehearsed. It’s a product of the improvisational classes he took in New York years ago.

“That became the base,” he said. “I’m a terrible robot.”

Smoove said his approach to stand-up comedy leaves his audiences guessing.

“I turn my back on the audience sometimes,” he said with a laugh. “I sit on a stool and talk my (butt) off. I love painting pictures onstage.”

One show had him behind a stage curtain making up several characters at a restaurant. At a recent show in Sacramento, Smoove said he had to react on the fly after a woman in the audience fainted and wasn’t able to walk out for over 10 minutes.

“I knew that’s the elephant in the room,” he said. “I go back to the bit and say, ‘Oh, so where was I at?’ People were losing their minds.”

Smoove said he enjoys comedy shows at casinos because the audience is there “to gamble and have a good time.”

“I bring out the three-piece suit, top hat, pocket square,” he said. “I’ve got to look like a high roller.”

Smoove joined “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in the show’s sixth season. He credits the success to its creator, Larry David, who also co-created the NBC sitcom “Seinfeld.”

“(David) is able to make it as funny as it is,” Smoove said. “Some people can’t watch because it touches on everything they hate as human beings. He finds a way to tap into that.”

During his stand-up routines, he said someone from the audience always ends up yelling out a reference from the show. However, Smoove’s persona and Leon’s character are “totally separate,” he said.

Smoove, whose real name is Jerry Angelo Brooks, said his stage name came about while he was a dancer in a hip hop group. His original name was J. Smoove, with his partner being J. Groove. He changed it to J.B. Smoove when he started doing comedy. At one point, Smoove said he considered using Jerry Angelo as his stage name.

“If you heard the name, you would think an Italian guy was about to walk on stage,” he said.

A North Carolina native, Smoove said he has an affinity for Louisiana.

“New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the world,” he said. “I’m a Saints fan.”

Smoove said his opportunities in entertainment have come about by working with everyone involved in a film or TV show.

“I’m a guy that likes to plant seeds,” he said. “I used to have lunch with interns on set to let them know they’re part of a team. Years later, they’re heads of studios. That is something that keeps my phone ringing.”

The Golden Nugget show is for adults 21 and older.J.B. Smoove is on his nationwide Lollygagging Comedy Tour. The tour stops in Lake Charles on Friday, March 13 at the Golden Nugget.

Special to the American Press

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