Commentary

Smoove Operator: JB And AT&T

“I’m done listening to two-hour podcasts about bros cold-plunging! In my new podcast, ‘Straightforward’ by AT&T Fiber, I’ll give you all the info you need, in about half a minute.”

That’s JB Smoove, comedian, noted “Curb Your Enthusiasm” scene-stealer, and occasional phrase-maker-upper, posting on his X account last week, announcing his clever micro-podcast deal involving AT&T Fiber and iHeart Podcasts promoting AT&T Straightforward pricing.

I had never heard “cold-plunging” outside of Scandinavia, but it’s a thing among bros.

And that’s just the role Smoove's character Leon Black played on “Curb”: to disturb and edify Larry, with his hilariously worded, profane, contemporary cultural riffs and advice.

Created by BBDO Los Angeles, the campaign does a couple of smart things.

First, many podcasts are too long, now that you mention it.  Who has the time?

Second, they make it all about the authentic voice of JB. The campaign allows him to run with his signature “good/bad advice” capsulized in tiny nugget form. It has zero stuff about the “authentic fiber optics and better speed than cable internet” blah blah weighing it down.

It’s form and function: The notion of speed conveys itself.

In effect, it’s a miniature podcast for other traditional podcasts. And when it runs as a li’l commercial within other podcasts, it’s a great relief that it’s an absurd comedy bit falling from the sky that doesn’t come across as a typical ad at all.   

”Because straightforward is better” is one of the campaign taglines. But “Straightforward” is more like straight-up-comedy with a Smoove chaser. It’s not straightforward at all.

JB brings up some interesting concepts, and then the answer is like a tiny poem with nonsense stanzas going straight off a cliff, or around in circles.

I happen to love his brand of comedy, and no matter how many ads he appears in, I never get sick of him.

Take “How to Stop a Ninja,” a title that sparks the imagination.

“Let’s travel back 500 years to the feudal era of Japan,” Mr. Smoove (born Jerry Angelo Brooks, thus the JB) tells us, “To uncover why a culture known for its meticulous craftsmanship deliberately built homes with creaky floors…” I agree about the meticulous craftsmanship and am interested in where the ninjas fit in.The answer? “A lot of those stealthy ninjas were using their power to step out and have affairs. Squeaky over sneaky saved many a ninja marriage!”

Ninja-wise, that’s not what I was bargaining for, but it’s certainly unexpected.

Some of the titles of the microcasts parody New Age self-help advice, but boil down to absurd wordplay and aphorisms. “How to be a Better Lover,” for example, goes like this: “Let me cut to the chase. Love yourself, but don’t love yourself so much that you have no love leftovers for your lover.   

“Remember, love doesn’t reheat well in the microwave.”

In all, there are 13 “Straightforward” episodes, ranging from 22 to 35 seconds. They’re introduced with a cool musical flourish. Smoove’s delivery is what sells them.  “That’s why Straightforward, hosted by yours truly, gives you exactly what you need, in as long as it takes you to tie your shoes. From being a better lover to a better human, I got you," he said in an introduction.

“Straightforward” might leave you confused, but in a good way. Remember that “love does not reheat well in a microwave.”

Does that include fiber?
 

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