“You have to be patient. You have to allow them to grow. You have to let their story be their story. I would say patience is the number one thing that you should have as a new dad.” – JB Smoove

Art Eddy: You are a writer, comedian, and an actor. You are great on all those fronts, but out of those three do you have a passion on one of them over the other two?

JB Smoove: That is a hard question. I do love movies so much. There is something about seeing yourself in the theater on the big screen. I do also love the immediate response you get from doing stand-up. You can tweak somethings right after a show, but a film you might not see that movie for eight months. By the time the movie comes out you have changed as an actor. You have grown. You are watching that movie and you are like man I could have done that better.

Stand-up is so immediate. I do love the commercials. I think that is why I throw a lot of things against the wall. I just go with the flow. I put a lot into each and everything by itself. I do think I love stand-up because of that immediate response you get from the audience. You can be in that moment with them at that time.

AE: When did you know that you wanted to get into the entertainment business?

JS: I have always been the life of the party kind of guy. I have been lucky to be around family and friends who have been hilariously funny. I think all of that plays a big part in that. I think you got to see a lot. You have to go through a lot. Those turns of me just being around the right type of people.

The thing that really pushed me over the top was when I was in a dating game in college. I was one of the three bachelors. Every answer that I gave was hilarious. I just lit it up. The crowd was going crazy with every answer. I felt a power. I felt the damn power of laughter. Making your friends laugh or a small amount of people at a party laugh is one thing, but making that amount of people in the audience laughing I became the man on campus.

I became the man to the point that I didn’t even take the girl out. (Both laugh.) I won a date and never took her out. How crazy is that? It wasn’t that I got cocky. It was just one of those things where I wanted to prove things to my friends. They challenged me. I went home that summer and started working on my stand-up. I felt the power. I wanted to figure out my delivery. I wanted to figure out who I would be on stage. It was the most fun, most amazing, gratifying feeling I have ever felt in my career. It was turning that corner and figuring out what I wanted to do.

AE: Let’s also talk about your book called The Book Of Leon. It just came out and people are loving it already. It is based on your character from the HBO hit show Curb Your Enthusiasm. How much fun did you have making this book?

JS: Some people say it is harder to step back and write about a character that has no origin. No one knows where Leon came from. Leon came to Larry’s door. There is no prequel to Leon. There is no backstory. Leon kind of just came out of nowhere. Some think it is hard to write about a character like that. It is harder. I am actually creating things and I am allowing him to have an opinion on life and love and all of these different things.

It has been something that I have found to be so gratifying. It was so fun. I do have something to work off knowing what people love about Leon. I got to channel that. I have been on the show for four seasons now. I have answered every Leon question imaginable. All I had to do was think about what we do on set. It is an improv based show. I wrote the book with that in mind.

At first I was going to write it as a table book. It would have been Leon through history. It would have been Leon as Mona Lisa. Leon as a caveman. It would be Leon all throughout history. I would have had a Leon quote under each photo. I could still do that book at some point. To do a book to coincide with Curb Your Enthusiasm I wanted to do a book about things that Leon knows about. People love the interaction between me and Larry so why not make them feel like Larry?

AE: What popped into your mind when you found out that you were going to be a father for the first time?

JS: The first I think that you think about is man this is a huge responsibility to be a dad. I was a dad that already kind of had his thing going of where I wanted to be at and what I wanted to do with my life. It was a hard turn because you have to sit there and put things into perspective. I was like okay I have to leave town for two to three weeks. I don’t want to leave town I have my baby girl right here. It is like a hard turn.

Let me tell you about my career. A lot of people might not be able to do this, but I quit my day job the day my daughter was born. On the day she was born I quit my day job. I was doing okay. I wasn’t at all in the position that I am in now. At that time I was just doing clubs, traveling and doing some gigs and colleges. I was working to keep the lights on. I always say how I work is to keep the lights on and everything else is just gravy.

For me it was all about keeping the lights on. All of a sudden you are about to have a kid. I knew that the only way for me to accomplish the things I wanted to do and get to be at the point where I am now was that I couldn’t be at that day job. I couldn’t achieve my dream. This is not for everybody, but I quit my day job because I wouldn’t have been able to do exactly what I wanted to do if I had kept that day job.

Going to stand up clubs after work every day became tiresome. I haven’t had time to focus on what act I wanted to do. I couldn’t do TV shows or big movies. On the day she was born I quit my day job. You will be surprised on what you can do and accomplish when you have to do it. It is a little different than leaning on a job that you hate. I can’t even imagine still working there and still at that job.

I believe that you got to release something for you to allow something new to come through. Me releasing that job on that day was crazy. Another thing that was crazy was that day was that her mom went into labor when I was flying to Cleveland. I was flying to Cleveland on a plane in the middle of a thunderstorm. I remember the plane dropping. It must have dropped feet. Everyone’s stomach was in their mouth. It was freaking crazy. The oxygen mask came out and everything.

Do you know how crazy that must have felt? I just found out that right after I got to Cleveland that her mom was in labor. It was one of those things where I didn’t know what was going to happen. This oxygen mask comes out. I am putting the mask on my face. I am looking at the guy sitting next to me like what the hell just happened. We land in Cleveland. I find out my daughter is coming into this world. I quit my day job. All of these things had to happen, but it definitely opened me up to the responsibility of being a father and the responsibility of deciding my direction in life.

AE: What are some of the core values you look to instill into your daughter as she is growing up?

JS: Work hard. I think that alone was a huge thing. She knows about that. We have talked about that. My daughter has changed her major twice. She sees this hard work that I put into stuff. That in result shows her hard work. My daughter is a student. She has her own pie company. She also worked for Habitat for Humanity. These are a nice range of things for her to get inspired by.

She owns her own company. She gave back by working for Habitat for Humanity. She is a student. All of these things she was doing at the same time while she was in college. That shows a whole wide range of different levels of the influence I have had on her. Go after what you want to in life. Enjoy your ride. She has a wonderful sense of humor. She has a wonderful outlook on what life is. She is a free spirit. My daughter is basically a hippie. (Both laugh.)

She is grounded. She knows that she has to work hard to get everything that she wants. Her grade point average was amazing in college. She has the ability to expand on that. These are all things that you have to instill into your kids to allow them to flourish and grow. I can’t wait for the next wave or what she is going to do. Just to see the possibility of what she can do already. Having your own pie company and not being 20 years old. To have your own pie company is amazing to me.

AE: What is the one biggest piece of advice you have for new dads?

JS: Patience. Patience, patience, patience, patience. A lot of guys have a tendency to panic. They feel like they can’t do this. Patience. Enjoy watching this little person that you have grow their personality. You are also going to find out that this person is going to have a personality. It is very possible that your personality and her personality might not mix. It is what it is.

On some level you might say man I don’t like my kid as a person. If it wasn’t your kid would you like that little person? (Both laugh.) You might say oh man I can’t stand my buddy’s kid. This is your kid. You have to have patience with their growth and who they are. Allow their personality to grow and grow the right way.

They might have more drive than you. They may take more risks than you. There are different levels on how you achieve greatness and how you achieve all of your dreams. No one’s story is the same. You can’t force your kid to have your story. Your story is your story. Her/his story is going to be different. It is going to be a different journey. Different things need to happen in order for that kid to be successful. It is not just going to be the exact same you did it.

You have to be patient. You have to allow them to grow. You have to let their story be their story. I would say patience is the number one thing that you should have as a new dad.

AE: Do you guys have a favorite family movie that you all love to watch together?

JS: We love Claudine. It is an old movie. I am old school. It is an old movie with James Earl Jones and Diahann Carroll. It is an amazing movie.

AE: Do you guys have a favorite song that you all like to sing to or dance to as a family?

JS: Right now? That is hard man. I don’t listen to a lot of this new stuff. My wife is an artist. I love her stuff. Her new album is coming out. It is going to break the mold. Her name is SHAH XO. She has some stuff that is going to change this world.

I am an old school guy. I like Bobby Brown’s Humpin Around. I love J Cole. That is one of my favorite artists. He is my favorite rapper.

AE: Describe the perfect family vacation.

JS: Oh man. A lot of people don’t know this, but I am a big RV man. A lot of people think that black people don’t like to RV, but I am a big time RV’er baby! (Both laugh.)

AE: Is there one role you would love to play next?

JS: For some reason I feel that I want to do a period piece. I just don’t know who I want to play.

AE: Is there one actor or actress that gets you laughing the most while shooting?

JS: Larry (David) makes me laugh, but man Bob Einstein on Curb (Your Enthusiam)Funkhouser; I am telling you that is a genuinely hilarious man right there. His voice, his delivery, his demeanor, and his mannerisms. Everything he does makes me freaking laugh every time. I don’t break a lot, but I will think about it later that Bob is hilarious to me.

About JB Smoove

Born in Plymouth, North Carolina and raised in Mount Vernon, NY, Smoove is a gifted writer, comedian and actor, who continues to entertain audiences all over the world with his unique brand of comedic funk. His breakout role on Curb Your Enthusiasm as Leon has firmly planted him as one of the best comedic actors today.

He began his career in 1999, when he moved to Los Angeles and landed a recurring role on MTV’s The Lyricist Lounge Show, as well as featured guest spots on The Chris Rock Show and Premium Blend. This led to his first big feature film, where he narrated and starred in the cult classic Pootie Tang, reuniting with Rock. Smoove subsequently followed this up with a co-starring role opposite Adam Sandler in Mr. Deeds.

After a season as a cast member on the sketch comedy program Cedric the Entertainer Presents, Smoove moved back to New York City where he landed a writing position on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. He later was a recipient of the 2007 Writers Guild award for Best Comedy/Variety Seriesfor his work on the show.

Smoove’s talents extend to other areas in the entertainment business. He has a development deal to create his own series in partnership with director Shawn Levy, whom he met and worked with on Date Night. He also expanded his comedy empire with the launch of The Ruckus, a comedy-based website focused on original and branded comedy content.

Smoove is a car enthusiast, loves pool, and is an avid sports fan and a proud supporter of the Mt. Vernon Boys and Girls Club. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.

Follow JB on Twitter at @ohsnapjbsmoove and go to jbsmoove.com and get his book, The Book of Leon wherever books are sold.