“Curb Your Enthusiasm” standout J.B. Smoove stopped by The Times recently for one of our Emmy contenders video chats and, needless to say, he was pretty, pretty happy that HBO and Larry David had decided to bring back the show for a 10th season.
After all, there had been a six-year gap between the show’s eighth and ninth seasons. That kind of break might be OK for someone like David who, as Smoove notes, is sitting on plenty of “Seinfeld” money. But when you’re a working actor like Smoove, that kind of layoff necessitates a different kind of math, as he explains in this excerpt from our conversation:
They made the announcement that the show was coming back, which was a fabulous announcement. Because here's what I do when I get an announcement like that. I start counting my money. See, I don't know about how people with regular jobs do it, but actors, we go from job to job sometimes. So you start counting your money. When my bank account goes down to a certain point, that's when I anticipate whether a show's coming back, like "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
So then I start adding, I start doing the math in my head. Everybody should always do math. You should. Do you do math a lot? Do you think about your bills? You've got to do your math in your head. Like, OK, if I don't pay my light bill, and my lights go off today, can I keep my gas on for another week? See, you've got to prioritize.
The math is great, because what happens is, with a show like "Curb Your Enthusiasm," people pull from a show like that, and you start doing all these guest spots here and there. You do more movies, you do more TV, you know? And you've got to realize, this is, last season, Season 9, was the first season where I became a regular on the show. Although I was a guest performer on the show my previous years, I was in almost every episode.
Now you see why I'm doing the math? See, you don't get the same money when you're a guest. You're considered a guest, but you're in all the episodes, as opposed to becoming a regular cast member. That's different money. You have guest star money. So when you're doing guest star money, you've got to keep busy all the time. You've got to be in commercials. You've got to guest star on other TV shows. You have to always try to get a television deal here and there, because you're not secure yet. You're not a regular.
Has [Larry] given me any financial advice? No. No, he has not. Larry is sitting on a lot of money. See, Larry’s got that old "Seinfeld" money. I tell people all the time, Larry carries his money long. Like, most people, they fold their money over, they put it in their pocket. Larry carries his money straight flat, like flat money.
So, here's how Larry does it. When Larry goes to the bank, he brings a big security guy. Larry hasn't even touched his "Curb Your Enthusiasm" money. He spends his money from the bottom up. He has his money stacked up. All his "Seinfeld" money is on the bottom. All his "Curb" money's on the top. So he has this big guy, he goes in there, he lifts the money up, and Larry puts his hand in there and grabs "Seinfeld" money from the bottom.
That guy is loaded, man. I went to Larry's house, right? He invited me over to his house. His whole house is like money furniture. Crazy. Crazy. I don't know if he's doing it on purpose or he's just trying to show off, but he made money lemonade. He came in there, put a lemon on the table, and he squeezed the lemon in the pitcher, and he just started putting money in the bottom. He never even mentioned that he just put 25 $100 bills in a pitcher of lemonade and is stirring it up, you know?
How’d it taste? It tasted like money. Like $100 bills. What do you think it tasted like? You let a few go in your mouth, so you can keep your lights on.