J.B. Smoove would like to welcome you to Smoove Season.
The standup comedian, former SNL writer, and current Curb Your Enthusiasm star has a new feather to add to his multihyphenate title: author. At the same time, that title of author doesn’t technically belong to him. Rather, he can now call his Curb character Leon Black a published author.
The Book of Leon: Philosophy of a Fool is an advice book penned by Smoove in the voice of his over-the-top character, sharing advice that many might want to hear but no one should follow. Smoove is well aware of the danger following in Leon’s flip-flop-clad footsteps could cause, admitting, “this book could fuck up your life if you’re not careful.”
The Book of Leon is the result of a fleeting idea from Smoove, who was planning to write his own memoir before he had a flash of an idea for a book from Leon. The notion of a coffee table book with Leon through history (“Leon as a caveman. Leon with George Washington crossing the Delaware. Leon as the Mona Lisa, Leon as the screaming woman in that painting…”) then evolved into a way to dispense “Leon-isms,” or tidbits of advice that the character would be more than happy to provide…whether they should be followed or not. In truth, Smoove wasn’t sure if he’d be able to get the rights to the character, but when he ran it by Larry David, the Curb creator urged him to run with the idea. “You should write it!” Smoove recalled David saying (and displaying an impressive Larry David impression, in my estimation). HBO signed off on the idea, and he got to work.
Leon Black came to life in Curb’s season 4 by wandering into Larry’s house looking for his sister Loretta (“was he in Katrina too?” “No, he lives in LA!”), and never left. The open-ended manner in which he arrived to the show has informed the way his character developed. “My goal is to give Larry something new about [Leon] in every scene.” Facts about Leon that we learn over the course of the series, like his having filmed a porno while constipated or his knowing to call Larry “Long Ball Larry,” were all borne of the improvisational style that the show is grounded in. But when writing Leon, Smoove had to take a different approach. Occasionally dressed as Leon as he wrote, Smoove aimed to talk to the reader in the same way he talks to Larry on set. That yielded lots of advice…too much, as it turned out. “There was so much that got cut from this book…there were something like 500 pages at some point,” Smoove admitted.
What the reader is left with is all the Leonisms that readers will likely have grown to love from Leon’s four seasons on Curb, shared with all the reverence for the form that a character who starts his volume with “Fuck a Foreword” would give. “Two chapters in, I know people will be wondering, ‘When’s he gonna start the book?’ I already said ‘Fuck a foreword, the book has started already!’” One example of the counsel that ended up in the 241 pages? Consider this tidbit, on foreplay:
If you ask me, foreplay is for someone who lost his pinkie or his thumb, because if you have five fucking fingers you should be practicing ‘fiveplay.’ What I’m saying is don’t hold anything back when it comes to foreplay!
And with all that content that got cut still floating around, Smoove hasn’t ruled out a series of books written in Leon Black’s voice. After all, “Harry Potter has seven books, why can’t Leon Black?” As the remainder of the series comes together, give the first volume a read for all the Leonisms you could ever possibly need.
The Book of Leon: Philosophy of a Fool is currently available with Simon and Schuster Books.
If you prefer to see Smoove as himself, consider observing “Smoove season” on the “Lollygaggin’ Tour,” with upcoming stops in Richmond, VA at the Funny Bone (November 2nd-4th), at the Valley Forge Casino in King of Prussia, PA on November 17th, and at the Cleveland Improv (12/8-10). Get his full tour schedule on his website.