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.
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.