J.B. Smoove Talks The Millers, Naked Australians, Will Arnett And Why You Should Never Heckle Him

J.B Smoove – an actor/comedian best known for his role as Larry David’s housemate Leon in Curb Your Enthusiasm – catches up with Pedestrian to discuss the benefits of working with Will Arnett, how he handles hecklers, nude Australians and how to be a good wingman.        

Hey man what’s going on? Not much man. I gotta say, I miss Australia. I was over there for like ten days.

What were your fondest memories of Australia and what were the main differences you noticed between Australian and American culture? One thing that I do love is that you don’t have to tip over there. That’s one thing. It was so shocking to me. It kind of throws you off. Being from over here, if you don’t tip, you don’t know what’s in your food. You have no idea. Waiters will remember your face, they’ll remember you for next time. I like the change too. I like the switch up of summer and winter. Everything’s in reverse. I looked around for the water going the other way. As much as I tried to remember that, for some reason I didn’t look to make sure. I’m not one to look into the toilet, you know? I’m not that kind of guy. I’m not a bathroom freak.

Were there any differences that you noticed in the people? You know why I came over there? I hosted an event called The Gift. Have you heard of The Gift? It’s part of a music festival outside of Melbourne [Meredith] and a big part of that ceremony is a naked running race. Men and women. There’s one for the men and one for the women and they crown a champion. You guys are very free with your bodies over there. Over here you would have to pay for that kind of stuff. They charge you for that. Over here you gotta pay to see people naked like that. Everyone was free, everyone was nice. It was a wonderful environment. I really had a great time. I didn’t get the chance to see a kangaroo or a koala though. I’ll see them the next time I come. What actually would be cool is if I saw a kangaroo with a koala in its pouch. That would be perfect. Now that’s what I call a gift.

So let’s talk The Millers. What excites you most about doing this TV show? It’s a great show, man. It’s myself, Will Arnett, Margo Martindale, Beau Bridges. It’s an amazing cast and I’m just so glad to be part of it. The show’s about a divorced roving reporter, Will Arnett’s character, his parents have no idea he’s divorced so his parents come to visit him and he springs it on them that he’s divorced. Then his father gets the bright idea that he wants a divorce too. So you have this family of dysfunction with a son divorced, a mum and dad who just got divorced, the mum ends up living with him and the dad ends up living with his sister and chaos ensues. I play Ray, Will Arnett’s character’s cameraman so I get the chance to see his character in all kinds of light. In front of the camera, behind the camera, I’m trying to get him back into the dating world again. I gotta get this guy out there. I end up being a wingman for the entire family. Everyone’s single. And the cast is so great. They’re all pros. They’re so quick and so funny. It really feels like a family. I feel like the black adopted son or something.  

You say your character is like the wingman for all these newly single characters. Do you have any experience in the real world of being a wingman and if so do you have any tips to share? Oh man, you know what? When you take the title of “wingman” you really have to understand what goes into being one. A wingman takes the brunt of things. If things work out you are a king in their eyes. If things don’t work out it’s you over there sitting there with that crazy lady or that crazy guy. So there’s a lot of responsibility being a wingman. You can’t sit there expecting it to be an amazing experience. It’s not about you. The definition of a wingman is someone who will help and support you in meeting someone. But once that happens it’s out of my hands, you’re on your own. I ain’t no chaperone. I’m a wingman.   

What did you learn about performance from someone like Will Arnett? Sometimes people will play characters who are a lot like themselves and I think Will has a nice balance between the guy on camera and the guy off camera. We gotta have a fine balance of reality attached to our characters so we can actually relate to them on camera. And he does a fine job of relating to his character. That’s something I learned. He brings a quality of likeability to his characters even if they’re inherently unlikeable because he finds something in them he himself likes. If I don’t like someone as a person why should I care about them? And he’s fast. So fast. It’s almost like he’s writing the show as he’s acting. He gives so many looks and so many variations and he’s so creative. He really must be one of the best in the world at attacking a joke from multiple angles and nailing it in no time. It seems so natural. If you could see it up close you would be impressed, trust me.  


How do you deal with hecklers? You don’t want to mess with me on stage. My motto is “go watch the show or you can be the show”. When I deal with hecklers I don’t even deal with them. I just perform in such a straight forward manner people are terrified to even remotely question me on stage. I go in so deep. I’ll make the whole show about you. I’m a king of improvisation. If I go in on you I won’t stop. You’ll leave there with a nickname and you may never visit a comedy club again in your life. Even when you think I’ve forgotten about you, somehow I’ll do a callback which will lead into a 20 minute rant on you again because my brain just works in that way. I can jump in and out and back again. So my advice? Don’t. 
The Millers premieres 7.00 Sunday April 27 on TEN.