On “Brad Paisley’s Shark Country,” actor J.B. Smoove will face down the much-feared creatures in a situation that he had originally imagined would turn out much differently.
When Smoove’s manager initially contacted him about the program, he enthusiastically agreed to participate — thinking that he would be booked for “Shark Tank,” the business reality show where entrepreneurs making proposals to five investors or “sharks,” who choose whether to invest.
“The Curb Your Enthusiasm” star had actually signed on to “Shark Week,” Discovery’s annual weeklong ode to shark-oriented programming.
Smoove asserted that the mistake was due to “tunnel vision,” and his huge passion for the other “shark-entitled” show.
“Everybody knows that I am a huuuge ‘Shark Tank’ fan, and I have tons of ideas just ready for ‘Shark Tank,'” he told Entertainment Weekly. “So initially when my manager called me – honestly, sometimes I get tunnel vision and there is a long moment of unclarity on what exactly this is. They’ll tell me something, but I’ll hear something totally different because I’m already juiced up. I’m ready for the celebrity version of ‘Shark Tank,’ you know? I feel like I can go up there and I’m a good judge of what is a great idea because I am an ideas man myself, so I’m always ready to throw my ideas out there.”
He continued, “I’m telling you, all I heard was ‘Shark Tank.’ Because ‘Shark Tank’ is on all the time…. ‘Shark Week’ is, what, once a year? So you don’t hear ‘Shark Week’ for what – how many weeks are in a year again? There are, like, 52! One week of that 52? Come on now! So the natural perception is, ‘Hey man, I’m about to be on ‘Shark Tank,’ baby!’… All I talk about is going on ‘Shark Tank’ one day.”
“So my brain is like, ‘Oh man, I can’t wait to go on ‘Shark Tank!’ I even told people, ‘I think I’m going to be on ‘Shark Tank!’ I got a message from my manager that I’m going to be on ‘Shark Tank!’ Naturally, I’m thinking, ‘Hey, these guys must know what’s up.’ They know I got the ideas, they know I got the enthusiasm to go up there and really be a big part of their decision-making on these amazing ideas.”
Smoove attributed the misunderstanding to a costar on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” who volunteered the comedian for the job.
“Cheryl Hines is the one who facilitated all this, because Brad Paisley called her and she couldn’t do it,” he said. “And she says, ‘You know who’ll be great? J.B. Smoove!’ She knows how much I love ‘Shark Tank’ already. I pitch ideas all the time on the set, and everybody knows I look good in a damn suit.
“I blame all this on Cheryl Hines. It was relayed the wrong way, and then re-relayed the wrong way, and then it was relayed the right way but I still wanted to hear the relay of the wrong relay, you know what I’m saying? So in my mind, even though I heard ‘Shark Week,’ I still wanted to hope and pray that it meant a weeklong version of ‘Shark Tank.'”
Even so, Smoove received his diving certification with flying colors and became immersed in the training that he received, noting that he only had to trust his “Black Dolphin” instincts to become acclimated to the water.
“This was my first time actually scuba diving, but everything seemed like it was perfect for me,” he recalled. “I aced the test to be certified. When you’re being trained, they say, ‘Ninety-eight percent of the time, you’re never going to use any of this safety stuff we’re teaching you, but it’s just in case.’ So that’s the thing I focused on the most – learning more about these damn sharks and what goes down when you’re underwater, even though the Black Dolphin has already been in the ocean. I love swimming, but I can’t say that the Black Dolphin has swam with sharks. I’ve only swam with tropical fish, and once in a while another little dolphin will show up and give me a little dap.
“I can’t say I wasn’t terrified, because we were diving into 40 feet of water, and there were times where I had the chance to descend to the bottom of the ocean, and I’m sitting there saying, ‘Wow, this is absolutely amazing,’” he added. “Once I was in the water, my natural Black Dolphin instincts kicked in and I went back to my aquatic world. I felt right at home, and the sharks gave me little daps, showing a little love and respect for the Black Dolphin. I get it. This is your part of the ocean, and I respect that. As long as you show respect for the sharks, they’re going to show respect back. And I’m going to give much respect to the sand shark, the reef shark, the tiger shark, and all the sharks that I met while I was being trained.”
Smoove is still determined to land on his favorite show and saw his unexpected appearance on “Shark Week” as a fruitful platform to leverage for other projects. “I will definitely end up on Shark Tank, because of my appearance and my misstep,” he said. “See, this is a different route for me to get on the actual show. They’re going to see my passion for ideas. They’re going to see my passion for business. They’re going to see my passion for the ocean, my love of sharks, and my love of the aquatic world. And they’re going to get a chance to see the Black Dolphin. Who knows? Maybe I can [manifest] an idea that revolves around the Black Dolphin.”
“This could be enough to a springboard into the Marvel universe. I’m already in the Marvel Universe. I’m Mr. Dell [in the Spider-Man franchise]. Who’s to say Mr. Dell can’t get bitten by a radioactive dolphin, and next thing you know, the Black Dolphin is born! A Black Dolphin movie!”
Paisley and Smoove’s “Shark Week” special will feature the two celebrities as well as marine scientist, Dr. Austin Gallagher, as they discover whether Paisley’s sounds can attract or repel sharks in the Bahamas. The show will premiere Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery.