JB Smoove is currently starring in HBO‘s ninth season of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm as the slick-talking Leon Black, nearly stealing every scene he’s in. The veteran comedian and actor sat down with FADER for an exclusive chat dishing about his time on Def Comedy Jam, Curb, and penning a book in the character of Leon Black.
Def Comedy Jam is where you got your start and the show just celebrated with a 25th anniversary performance. What was it like to be in the building for that?
It was absolutely amazing. At that time, when Def Comedy Jam came around, this was like the heyday of black comedy. We all went downtown to perform in the comedy clubs but we didn’t have our own personal show. It was a tone, a style of comedy that Def Comedy Jam represented. And it wasn’t only black comedians either, it was comedians that had a certain flavor to them, no matter where they lived — New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit — all around the country. You found out about these different comedians through Def Comedy Jam.
When you’re performing in your own circle, you don’t realize that there are tons of other people out there. This is a bad example but it’s kind of like The Walking Dead. You’re going through your own zombie sh*t in your neighborhood, everybody’s zombied the f*ck up, but you don’t realize that there’s zombies all over the place. Everybody got zombies in their backyard. I met new comedians and I had no idea who they were until I did Def Comedy Jam. So, all these years later, this amazing event was a reunion. We got comics that made their way out of the pack and became huge stars, and you got comedians who you never heard from again. Being in that building was like the A to Z of comedy. Without Def Comedy Jam, none these people would have had a platform. Even if you didn’t perform on Def Comedy Jam, you were inspired by it and benefitted from the fact that it existed.
Read JB Smoove’s full interview with FADER by following this link.