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JB Smoove Gets All Up In That Comix

‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ breakout star breaks out physically on stage.

At Comix on March 21, the break-out performer of last year’s season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” J.B. Smoove, in a return appearance there, demonstrated an energetic, even exhausting emphasis on physical comedy one might not have expected from his quick verbal banter with Larry David on the show.

Using every last inch of a stage that really was too small for what he had in mind, Smoove pumped up the enthusiasm of the audience, showing how the rap track he took the stage too could make you aggressive despite yourself, as he repeatedly slapped over the mike stand. One caveat -- Smoove did tend to milk his ideas a little too long at times, repeating the same action one time too many throughout the set -- but you certainly couldn’t say he was failing to entertain.

Smoove has crafted an onstage persona for himself that is actually much dumber and more simple-minded than his “Curb” character, Leon, who usually is confidently telling David what he should do about a problem. Smoove repeatedly turns to a refrain of “this is ridiculous” as he describes himself falling into some misadventure in his act, like getting beat up as he haplessly screeches at his attacker, “you’re going to jail!”

Smoove’s physicality was particularly effective when he played out what a strong man (or woman) could do … as a repo man, carrying off a car, or a nurse, picking up a man with one hand to change a bedpan. Or in riffs on people inadvertently spitting food while they talk, or getting stuck with a frozen smile on your face … at a funeral, demonstrated by Smoove hovering grinning over an imagined casket.

As a showman, Smoove saved what the audience might have wanted most for the very end of course -- nearly wilting under hot lights toward the end of a full hour of such physical exertion, he gave an alternate take on one of his advice rants from “Curb.” If you remember Leon’s exhortation to Larry to strike back for a perceived wrong by “getting all up in that ass … spray paint, ‘Larry Was Here’ in there,” Smoove changed it live to “setting that ass on fire -- be an ass arsonist!” The only other place you might get this is if it ends up on the DVD extras of the season -- and wouldn’t you rather have it firsthand? As a stand-up, Smoove gets the most possible out of simple ideas with tremendous physical effort and energy, coupled with extreme self-confidence.




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