JB Smoove interview

The comic genius serves you his intervention menu.

Photograph: James Dimmock / FOX

Hey, this is really happening! How did we have so many problems getting on the phone?
Maybe because it's 79 degrees here [in L.A.]. When it's cold—I'll tell you what happens when it's cold: You get a lot of shit done and you get ladies pregnant. When it's hot, ladies will say, "You're sweating, get the fuck off of me." Ladies like doggie style in the summertime. Missionary style is more of a wintertime sexual position. Understand?

Completely. Your performances give the impression that everything you do is big and boisterous. What's it like when you're asleep?
You got a computer? You know what it's like when the motherfucker's in sleep mode? You got to conserve the battery power, right? The less you fucking talk when you're sleeping, the more shit you got to say when you're awake. I'm logged on, but I'm off. All the upgrades and shit still come through. But you wake up and you press resume.

So do you write jokes in your sleep? Do you sit down to work while you're conscious?
I don't write no goddamn jokes. When I'm talking to you right now, I'm talking about the real shit. Ladies get pregnant in the winter? Think about it, write it down, put it in the magazine and shit, but also make a copy for yourself and put it in your fucking pocket so you have some shit to refer to.

Ooh, a laminated card for my wallet would be nice.
You're goddamn right you need cards. Matter of fact, send me a goddamn transcript of all the shit we talked about so I can laminate that motherfucker and hand that shit out before my show. It's like a menu. So when people get the Time Out magazine, they will say, "This is the menu of what JB [is] gonna cover during his show." You can order, or you can just sit back while I give you the entrees and the soup of the day.

So this is how you work out material for your shows? Talk truth to power?
Just run your fucking mouth! Sometimes shit comes out your mouth that you don't expect! All you need is a goddamn witness. An audience is a goddamn witness. Right now, it's just me and you, and you're a witness. You're probably recording it or you've got a good memory or you're writing longhand. But can you write longhand if you've got a short hand? Can you write shorthand with a long hand? You've got to ask yourself these questions.

That sounds like a Zen koan.
That's a set right there. I just did a set!

I wish I could see the physical stuff you're working on!
You send me the goddamn menu, and when you come to see me at Carolines, I'm gonna do some of the shit to show you how the shit works! I'll put the verbal with the fucking physicality. And I add the improv. I'm impromptu, motherfucker. You feel me? I don't know what the fuck I'm going to say.

Did playing Leon Black on Curb Your Enthusiasm for so long help you put foot to ass in your everyday life?
That is how you gotta live your life. You don't want to half-ass shit. If you work at a goddamn ice-cream shop, you ain't gonna put soup in a motherfucker's cone, are you? If the shit says ice-cream parlor, you want ice cream on that cone—not soup or some fucking grits. A scoop of grits? Or sticky-ass oatmeal? What the fuck is this? Why'd you put breakfast on a goddamn cone?!

That sounds like the worst ice-cream parlor ever.
No one is going to come back. You only get one shot sometimes. You've got to put foot to ass initially. And sometimes you've got to put both feet in the ass and do the running man. If you can just imagine both your feet in someone's ass while you're doing what you're doing, you'll be in the right frame of mind. What size do you wear?

Put some fucking twelves on and then just envision both your feet in someone's ass, and you're doing the fucking running man. Physically, you're doing your job. You're making love to your lady. You're babysitting. But mentally, you're thinking about both of your fucking feet in this babysitting job's ass. You feel me?

If you're not doing it that way, you may as well go home and take a nap.
Because you're half-assing it. You see how that all fits together? The term half-ass comes from someone not putting both feet to ass.

I've learned so much. This menu is going to be incredible.
I'll bring on anything that you fucking need to live your life in a positive way. It's not negative thinking, either. You do understand that, right?

The running man is a celebratory dance.
Goddamn right it is. It's called the running man because you're in motion but you're not going anywhere. You feel me?

Generations from now, I think people are going to read this for philosophical purposes, things they can carry away and think about later.
Fucking right, man; I'm a motivational speaker. One person at a time. I can't do this shit in a stadium. I've got to do an intervention on somebody's ass.

Wait, so this entire interview is actually an intervention for me?
This is a form of cooperative intervention. You are allowing me to intervene and correcting some shit that you might have had off.

You turned the tables so naturally.
You can't telegraph the shit because then you fuck up. You tell a lady, "I'm gonna tear that ass up," and then you get to the house and you're a minute man. If you hadn't telegraphed the shit, you might have lasted longer.

Don't telegraph and don't try the wrong position in the wrong season.
Lay pipe in the right weather.

I've got a lot to think about.
Goddamn right, you do.

JB Smoove plays Mar 31--Apr 3 at Carolines, 1626 Broadway between 49th and 50th Sts (212-757-4100, carolines.com).