J.B. Smoove on new podcast, ‘Funny My Way,’ remembering Black comedy icons

"I feel like comedians are the ones that can take the harshness of the world and the news that we hear every day and put our spin on it," Smoove said to theGrio.

Loading the player...

J.B. Smoove is diving into comedy history and bringing fans along for the ride. The comedian and actor is the host of “Funny My Way,” a six-part podcast exclusively on Audible that details the lives of various Black comedians who helped shape the genre and pave the way for the performers of today. TheGrio caught up with the multitalented host to break down his involvement in the podcast, what he was able to take away from the project and more.

“Funny My Way” premiered on Audible on Aug. 4, and wastes no time highlighting some of the greatest Black comedians to ever do it. Covering “The Godfather of Comedy” Paul Mooney, Moms Mabley, Flip Wilson and others, “Funny My Way” serves as an interactive history lesson, looking back at the greats of the past while connecting with our current comedic talents (Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, RuPaul and more contribute), weaving the web of Black Americans’ impact on the art form.

NETFLIX IS A JOKE PRESENTS - Blockbuster Trivia Game Night
J.B. Smoove is the host of a six-part podcast, “Funny My Way,” which premiered this month on Audible. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Netflix)

“Comedians have this way of attaching our sensibilities and our humor and our brand to the times that we live in,” Smoove explained when detailing the importance of the entertainers. “It’s as if the comedian is the one that actually can get you through these times.” While people tend to lash out at comedians from time to time, Smoove says it’s because sometimes people, “don’t like to hear the truth.”

“The truth has to be given to you in a certain form,” he continued. “I feel like comedians are the ones that can take the harshness of the world and the news that we hear every day and put our spin on it. Because otherwise, you’re constantly hearing the sharp edge of the world in your head over and over again.”

Getting the chance to host this podcast himself and look back at icons who came before him in comedy helped reconnect him to his roots in the genre as well. “To be in that studio recording this, saying out loud what Dick Gregory went through, Paul Mooney went through, Moms Mabley went through … speaking their life in an outward motion, with a certain cadence and energy to it, it really [brought] it home.”

“Something like this almost gives you clarity,” he continued. “You can feel what they felt in their time of struggle. Through their careers, through their lives … you feel it a different way.” Many of the comedians working in the mid to late twentieth century, were the “first” in many cases, like Flip Wilson (first Black host of a successful weekly variety show) or Moms Mabley (first Black female comedian).

Premiere Of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" - Arrivals
J.B. Smoove’s podcast details the lives of various Black comedians who helped shape the genre and pave the way for today’s performers. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Not only is the podcast educational, but it helps listeners put into perspective just how far we’ve come, and perhaps may inspire people now to take chances on themselves.

“When you hear this podcast, you’ll say, ‘Damn! They went through that, what am I complaining about,” Smoove pressed. “I can at least put my best foot forward and try to do what the hell I want to do with my life. That’s what they did. They found a way, through all their harsh upbringings, dealing with civil rights, dealing with racism, dealing with just being funny…they all had to deal with something.”

“Funny My Way” is available to stream exclusively on Audible now.

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!

Loading the player...