Have you encountered any memorable hecklers?
People be yelling out Curb Your Enthusiasm Leonisms in the middle of my show. And I have to choose if I want to address them and calm that person down by giving them the Leonism back or just ignore them and keep talking.
You have developed quite a following from those Leonisms.
Leon is like a motivational speaker now. You can apply all these things to your life! These are words to live by. You gotta take them and use them in the right way and they will motivate and inspire you to tackle life head on.
Well, there's no party motto quite like "I bring the ruckus."
It applies to babysitting, it applies to driving your car—it's a way of life. There's no better way to building your ruckus up! You gotta go into attack mode. You can't just assume the ruckus will come to you automatically. You don't acquire it. You bring the ruckus and then you use that ruckus. Double your ruckus up! Quadruple your ruckus up! If you cant handle the ruckus, do not ask for the ruckus. Accept that wolfman when the wolfman arrives.
Whats your favorite improvised Leon line of all time?
The one I love the most is where Larry [David] wanted me to snatch the purse and give him the purse so he can be a hero. And I'm like, "Nah, I can't do it half-speed, Larry. Somebody gotta get fucked up, Larry." If you do it half-speed, it's gonna be half-assed. You gotta do it full fucking throttle. And that's what I mean when I say, "Somebody gotta get fucked up, Larry."
To what extent does Larry David let you improvise? Are there lines drawn in terms of veering off the script or subject matter?
There is no script, so for us it's just an outline. He allows us to go as far as our character would go, as opposed to saying the most outrageous thing. I know who Leon is. When I'm doing Leon, we all know what Leon would say. In that way, I always know I'm within range of what my character would say. I never step too far outside of that. Everything my character says is always controlled.
It's hard because you're still trying to stay within the context you're talking about. Improv relies just as heavily upon listening as it does you speaking. Sometimes the most powerful things aren not what you say, it's the fuse you light. That can set the whole scene off. It's just as powerful shutting your ass up as it is trying to be the dominant person in the scene.
Considering the show's high improv content, does Leon have a lot of you in him?
You can have some Leon in you, but Leon can't have shit in him from you. It's just an aggressive way of speaking and applying yourself in a different way. He's a character that lives day to day and has no idea what his plans are tomorrow. He's in the moment. He's guy you can pull into your world, but you cant do it the other way around. He's a dude you can bring with you. He's a condom in your wallet it and you pull it out when you need it.
Where did you get the name "JB Smoove"?
I used to be a dancer for A hip-hop and R&B group in Mount Vernon, New York. Dancing is also an expression like stand-up is; it's an expression of your energy and your feelings in that moment, and you in turn give it to the audience who in turn claps and cheers because they're feelin' it. My partner was J Groove and I was J Smoove. How I spelled "smooth" came from the ending of groove. When I started stand-up, I added the B and became JB Smoove. Yeah!
I see you're on Twitter. Does being funny in under 140 characters challenge you?
It does challenge me. I don't do a whole lot of jokes on Twitter. I try to inspire a lot more than just being funny all day long. I try to keep it within what I do and stay true to my character and true to myself.
Is it hard for you to be succinct when you're used to being given more time to entertain?
You can say a whole lot of shit in the least amount of words. The shorter the better. The longer you go, the more they see who you really are. It's kind of like being in a damn hospital bed and you have that god-damned intravenous hooked in your damn arm. It's a drip. That's what I am: I'm a drip. I drip! You still get hydrated, you still get your nutrients—just a little at a damn time.
How do you think social media and technology in general helps make you a better comedian?
It allows you to hit a wide range of people. I get tweets from Ireland, the UK, and Australia. I get messages from people from all over the place, so, for me, it's amazing. You just touch a lot of people. Thus me coming up with my website, The Ruckus. Humor and comedy are what we do, but we don't own it. The Ruckus came about so people could connect with each other and you could meet someone from Wisconsin and they could be hilarious.
The site is still growing so fast right now. We just teamed up with Russell Simmons; he's now a partner. There are a lot of video sites out there that do funny videos, but we want to do something a little different. We want to cater to my audience, we want to cater to a certain brand of humor. This is a way of pulling in fans who believe in what you're saying and trying to do.
With comedians like Louis CK doing successful work in sitcoms right now, it seems like the time is ripe for you to do your own show. Is that in your plans?
Oh, of course. I would love to do a sitcom. I've been approached by several networks about doing my own show. I think that's on every comic's path, to try to get a TV show on the air. And for me this is a great time. I have a wide range of things that I do, and across the board I have tons of ideas.
I've been out with an idea about me being a guy that lives in his own basement, and his family lives upstairs, because he got a divorce and they can't afford two households. Whatever it is, I want it built around the common guy, a blue collar kind of guy. They're the most interesting people in the world. They're the people who are just satisfied working every day and just going to the bar after work, and going home and playing baseball with their kids. Most blue collar people are just pretty happy just being happy, and not having so much pressure on them to always do, do, do.