JOHN CARUCCI, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — JB Smoove says he’s “psyched” to be performing this weekend at the Garden of Laughs benefit at Madison Square Garden.
The actor-comedian sees his participation as the perfect confluence of opportunities: He’ll be supporting a great cause, playing in his home city and making a connection with a live audience.
“That immediate response, it’s like a high,” Smoove said in an interview.
He added: “I don’t think anything beats direct contact with people and that immediate response.”
Smoove is one of six comedians set to take the stage Saturday night. He’ll be joined by Dane Cook, Lewis Black, Bill Burr, Billy Gardell and John Oliver. He refers to the lineup as “an ice cream parlor of comedian flavors.”
“I haven’t figured out what flavor I am, yet. Maybe I’m butterscotch or even mocha,” Smoove joked Tuesday.
“Sopranos” star Steve Schirripa hosts the show, which benefits the Garden of Dreams Foundation. The organization works with all areas of the Madison Square Garden Co. — including the New York Knicks, the New York Rangers, the New York Liberty, MSG Entertainment and MSG Networks — to brighten the lives of children facing obstacles.
Smoove, known for his role as Leon Black, Larry David’s sidekick in the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” began his career as a standup comedian. He also was a writer on “Saturday Night Live.” Now he’s the host of the MSG network talk show “Four Courses with JB Smoove,” which just completed its third season.
That means he has the extra responsibility of representing MSG when he takes the stage.
“I have to be supportive of Madison Square Garden and their interest in the plight of children,” he said. “Their interest is my interest. … I’m part of the team. I’m the power forward. It’s time to pass me the ball, so pass me the ball.”
He compared the diversity of comics in Saturday’s show to boxers.
“There’s the slugger, the fundamental boxer, the speed guy, the southpaw. … We all have our own world that we’re going to pull people into for that 10 minutes,” he said.
But when pressed for a favorite, he had his own reason for choosing one.
“I love Lewis Black, and not because I’m black,” Smoove said.
Then he joked, “Yeah, it has something to do with it in some weird way.”
Follow John Carucci at http://www.twitter.com/jacarucci
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.