Enthusiasm

Cast clashes over ‘Curb’ so fiery Larry David once threatened to call 911: JB Smoove

Her path to stardom wasn’t always smooth.

When JB Smoove got the call in 2006 that he picked up ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, he had just left a ‘horrendous’ stand-up gig outside of Pittsburgh where he stayed in the ‘worst’ motel he had ever seen.

“To the point where I lay down in my clothes and my coat, that was how dirty it was,” Smoove, 56, who performs at City Hall in Midtown on November 11 as part of the New York Comedy Festival, “I said, ‘Something has to happen.’

The comic, whose real name is Jerry Angelo Brooks, joined the series in its sixth season, and showrunner Larry David immediately sensed their chemistry.

“Even our first week working together, he said, ‘It’s like we’ve been working together for years,'” he explained.

When he joined the cast, he didn’t know any of the actors personally, although some worked in the stand-up and comedy world. However, he quickly realized that they were all such close friends that he couldn’t discern if their fights on set were real.

When JB Smoove joined the cast of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in 2006.

“I literally stood on set and was like, ‘Oh my God, they’re going to kill each other.’ One day Larry even threatened to call 911, it was so serious,” he said with a laugh.

The Mount Vernon native credited fate that he took his first and only improv class in 1992, at Improv in Hell’s Kitchen, which closed a week later.

“It felt like I was supposed to have this little tool… under my belt,” he said of how the class foreshadowed “Curb.” “Fifteen years later, I audition for… an improvisation show.

Before joining the HBO show in 2007, he worked as a writer on “Saturday Night Live” for three seasons – after losing a casting job to Kenan Thompson and Finesse Mitchell.

JB Smoove and Larry David at HBO's 7th season premiere
JB Smoove and Larry David at the 7th season premiere of HBO’s ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ at the Paramount Theater.
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The SNL writing gig was like “trying out for the cheerleading squad every week. … They’ll choose the sketches they want and they’ll post them in the hallway on a wall.

At the time, he was living in Jersey City with his wife, singer Shahidah Omar, commuting daily to Manhattan.

“There were times when you were writing your sketches and the sun was coming up at 5 or 6 in the morning,” he recalled. “You would walk into the car service, go home, take a three hour nap, get up, run to the PATH train.”

The multi-talented performer, who won an Emmy Award in 2021 for her role in the television series ‘Mapleworth Murders’, has come a long way from her humble beginnings.

Growing up on the projects, he credits the Boys and Girls Club of Mount Vernon, where he now sits on the board with colleague Denzel Washington, for helping to shape it.

A photo by JB Smoov.
Before joining the HBO show, Smoove worked as a writer on “Saturday Night Live” for three seasons.

“Coming from a small town of Mount Vernon, a town that has its issues like any other town, this was a place we could go to,” he said. “It was a refuge for us.”

From an early age, he knew he liked to make people laugh. “My grandmother called me ‘Happy Jack,’ he said. “In all my photos, I had the biggest smile in the world. There’s this particular photo of me, you’d think the corners of my mouth would touch my ear.

This innate ability to entertain continued at Mount Vernon High School, where he said he “got lucky” with “really funny, funny friends”.

“I was a good student, but I was a hallway clown…between classes, on the way to class, man, we were walking fast and pulling stuff in front of our next class,” he explained.

A photo of JB Smoove at the HBO premiere
The multi-talented performer won an Emmy Award in 2021 for his role in the television series “Mapleworth Murders.”
MovieMagic

Smoove, who now splits his time between Los Angeles and Brooklyn, is currently filming season 12 of “Curb” and has witnessed moments from the series unfold in real life.

“I saw people chatting and cutting,” he said. “They walk to the front of the line and talk to someone…and all of a sudden they’re in front of the line.”

He also had “Curb” encounters that were too close to be comfortable.

“Or you go into a bathroom…there are 10 urinals wide open and someone walks into the urinal right next to you,” he said. “All those damn urinals, why did they come next to me?”