Comedian and actor J.B. Smoove may have pulled off the best fine-dining con: setting a TV series at a fancy restaurant. He returns with a third season of “Four Courses with J.B. Smoove,” this time featuring hilarious and probing conversations with comics and guests over dinner at Hudson Malone. Nice work if you can get it.
Setting a show at a restaurant seems like a genius idea. Any favorites?
All my restaurants where I’ve shot in the past three seasons were all absolutely amazing on “Four Courses.” And we hand-pick these restaurants. We have to do research, have to go there and sit at a table. You have to bring me dishes and meals, I have to see the service, I need to know what’s going on. I sit down, they bring me a table setting, and the waitress is always beautiful and nice, the chef comes out and shakes my hand, the owner of the restaurant greets me, you know? Because this is going to be the new home of “Four Courses with J.B. Smoove,” so everything has to be perfect. I’m going to go through the menu with a fine-tooth comb to see what’s going to activate my taste buds. This year we’re at Hudson Malone, which is a great restaurant. I’d recommend it very highly.
All right, let’s talk desserts.
Oh man, I have a very particular sweet tooth. I’m from North Carolina originally, so my sweet tooth is a little different than the average sweet tooth. The desserts at our restaurants are normally gourmet desserts, not necessarily the banana pudding or the peach cobbler range. Because the cobbler is going to be very messy, and one thing you don’t want at a fine restaurant is a messy dessert. The deep-dish apple pie, very messy. The banana pudding is very messy — not very neat of a dessert. A dessert should be presented in the right way because it is the final piece of the puzzle, like a lava cake, which is amazing. I still don’t understand how they get the damn hot lava inside the cake. Have you ever thought about that? How do they get that hot-ass lava in there? How do you bake the cake with the lava inside the cake without the lava seeping out the damn cake?
I have no idea.
These are just the kinds of things that occur to me. We had this one dessert that involved three different tastes. It was an amazing brownie, an amazing sundae and something else. It was like three different worlds going on on one plate, like it took your mouth on different vacations. Like you went to the Caribbean, but you bounced around to different islands. It’s like a whirlwind journey in your mouth.
Do you have any rituals related to the show?
I’ll come home after a gourmet meal, after a fine meal of elegance, and sit on my couch and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before I go to bed. Isn’t that really weird? It’s like I’m re-gifting my mouth. I had a gift — an amazing meal — and then I’m re-gifting my mouth again by having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before I turn it in for bed. That’s just my process. I’m not telling everybody else to do that.
OK, but creamy or crunchy?
Oh, always creamy. The crunchy interferes, and then I have to chew twice. First I have to chew the bread, then I absorb the peanut butter and jelly — they kind of dissolve in your mouth, nobody really chews them — but the crunchies, that’s a whole other process. Now I’ve got to chew the damn crunchies. My mouth is working overtime now. It’s too much work to get the damn thing down my throat.
On an unrelated note, do you know if there’s ever going to be more “Curb Your Enthusiasm”?
You know, that is the question that has plagued me and haunted me since “Curb” has ended. You can’t ask Larry [David] directly about this. You kind of almost have to trick Larry into coming back. If I ask Larry, he’s going to beat around the bush. So when I see Larry I just say, “Man, I can’t wait for Season 9.” He doesn’t want to let anybody down, so I want him to think that without that “Curb” check, I’m doomed. That’s not true, but I want him to feel like everybody needs the show to come back. I’ll make up stories like, “I ran into Jeff [Garlin], he’s not doing so well, man.” I like to make him feel bad about it, because I know Larry’s rich. Larry’s loaded, and when you’re loaded like that, you may or may not come back but it’s anything that’s going to affect your lifestyle. So I like to make Larry feel terrible, like, “Hey man, they canceled ‘The Millers,’ man. I don’t know what I’m going to do now. Hopefully ‘Curb’ comes back to keep my lights on in my house. It’s hard out here, Larry.” (laughs)
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