At this point in his career, comedian and actor JB Smoove has mastered multiple variations of comedy; everything from stand-up, to writing, to comedic acting. In fact, if you’re a fan of Larry David’s HBO show, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, you’re familiar with JB’s character, Leon Black. Over the years, Leon has become somewhat of a confidant to Larry; a very risqué, unconventional confidant, but nonetheless, he’s someone that Larry confides in. Determined to spread the wealth of knowledge, JB recently released, “The Book of Leon”, a book written as JB’s beloved “Curb Your Enthusiasm” character, Leon Black. Comedy Hype caught up with JB Smoove to chat about his new book, plus more.
CH: Your new book, “The Book of Leon” was recently released, it’s a fantastic read and a fantastic concept. In the book, Leon Black gives his take on everything from love, sex, money, technology and health. It’s a complete guide to life by Leon Black. What inspired you to write this book?
JB: Initially, I was going to write a book as JB Smoove. But as I was writing the book as JB Smoove, I kept having the thought; “I would really love to write a book as Leon Black”. The only problem was, I didn’t think I would be able to do it, because I don’t legally own the character, HBO does. Then one day, I was on the set of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, talking to Larry David about the book idea. Oddly enough, we had parallel thinking, because he also said I should write the book as Leon Black. When Larry proposed that idea, that was all I needed to hear. Once I got the green light from Larry, I begin crafting the book as Leon Black. Also, if you watch “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, you know that Leon often gives Larry good-bad advice. I wanted people who read this book to feel like they’re Larry, receiving advice from Leon.
CH: One thing about the book that stands out from other books, is the way that it’s written; you’ve grammatically written this book in the exact way that Leon talks. I.e. “motherfucker” is spelled, “muthafucka” — which is hilarious in it’s own right. I think “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fans are going to be excited about little quirks like that. What was the thinking behind that decision?
JB: [Laughs] Yeah, I remember when I finished the book and gave Larry a copy. He opened it and saw the first page that says, “Fuck a Forward”. He closed it and laughed his ass off. I wanted this book to be read in the voice of Leon Black, so I made the executive decision to make it feel as authentic as possible. Also, one thing that helped me while writing this book, was getting into character; I would dress up as Leon, Du-rag and all. As I typed, I became Leon Black. You know how you’re typing something and the document gives you those red, squiggly lines, suggesting that you’ve made typos? I had so many of those fucking things. I had a lot of fun with this book. And I’m sure Leon did, too [Laughs]. I also has fun with the audiobook — it’s great for comprehending on-the go.
CH: In “The Book of Leon” Leon touches on a lot of topics. How did you decide what Leon should talk about and what he shouldn’t?
JB: Well, when it came to the topics, I made sure to only talk about what Leon is an expert on. Leon is a strategist. Anytime Larry comes to Leon with a problem, Leon has a strategy to get Larry out of whatever the fuck situation he’s in. So that’s what the reader will get when they read this book. But a quick disclaimer; be entertained by this book, but don’t live by it. This book will fuck your life up, if you abide by it. You’ll fuck around and be living at your friend’s house wearing slippers and a Du-rag, like Leon.
CH: Over the years, Larry has learned a lot from Leon. But what do you think Leon has learned from Larry?
JB: Leon has learned a lot from Larry. First off, he’s learned that all of Larry’s friends are fucked up [Laughs]. The only one of Larry’s friends that has any kind of sense, is Cheryl. Leon has also learned a lot about white people and that they sometimes don’t know what the fuck black people are talking about. For example, when I first told Larry to “Get in that ass”, he had no clue what the fuck I was talking about. Hell, the real Larry didn’t even know what the fuck I was talking about [Laughs].
CH: Speaking of, what’s it like to improv with Larry David? It looks like a lot of fun.
JB: You know what the most fun part is? It’s when I hit Larry with some shit and he doesn’t know how to react. Like, when I first said the term, “Lampin” during a scene — Larry has this little smirk he does when he’s trying not to laugh and once I see that, I know I got him [Laughs]. Man, we have a lot of fun on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and it’s been a pleasure working with Larry David.
CH: “The Book of Leon” is out now, it’s an incredible read. After reading the book, what else should your fans be looking out for?
JB: I have a lot happening. I love fashion and dressing nice, so I thought it’d be cool to release a line of apparel and accessories, so that’s coming soon. It’ll be under the label, “The Jerry Angelo Collection. I’ve also recently started working with Crown Royal, as the “King of Flavor”, so that’s been fun. And of course, season 9 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is out now.
You can find JB’s new book, “The Book of Leon” in stores and online now.