Comedian JB Smoove calls himself “The Black Dolphin” — so he was ready to dive alongside musician Brad Paisley for their new special.
“I embody that title,” Smoove told The Post. “Dolphins are fearless, love people and all animals…and the Black Dolphin gets along with everybody. So I felt very much at home. I’m a man of adventure.”
Maybe, but that tends to change when coming face-to-face with sharks, as they did in “Brad Paisley’s Shark Country,” premiering Tuesday (July 13) at 9 p.m. on as part of Discovery’s 33rd annual “Shark Week” programming slate.
In the special, filmed in the Bahamas, Smoove and Paisley are joined by marine scientist Dr. Austin Gallagher as they don their wetsuits for an underwater journey to see how sound can attract and/or repel sharks. (And, yes, Paisley strums his acoustic guitar below the surface while Smoove bangs a cowbell, among other tests).
Smoove, known to TV fans as Leon on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” said he trained for his underwater adventure in his backyard pool.
“They told me I had to get scuba-certified,” he said. “You get scared because they’re teaching you underwater survival skills and it’s not all fun and games. They have to teach you safety precautions in case you or your diving partner get into trouble…you learn how to take the [oxygen] regulator out of your mouth and throw it to the side and you gotta know your hand signals or how to let your diving partner know if you’re out of air.
“There’s a little computer attached to your tank that lets you know how much air you’ve got left and that part scares the hell out of you. I’m sitting there like, ‘Am I gonna remember all this stuff if something goes wrong?’”
That emphasizes how important it is to be in sync with your diving partner in an anything-can-happen scenario. Smoove said he and Paisley, who had never met in any substantial way, got along famously and trusted each other intrinsically.
“Some people you don’t meet by chance or at an event. Some people you meet when the universe throws you together and you find out you should’ve met a long time ago,” he said of Paisley. “Or maybe you already met in a former life. That’s how I felt about Brad. Maybe in another life I was a damn guitar or a banjo, I don’t know!
“I felt like I’d known [him] forever and he said the same thing to me. It was something that was supposed to happen.”
Smoove and Paisley survived their “Shark Week” special intact, there were a few hairy situations — including being surrounded by a school of sharks.
“I know some people would panic when that happens and [would] literally lose their minds,” Smoove said. “They would forget to breathe and forget everything they learned. But oh, man, when those sharks were around us? It felt like a bunch of puppies…and we realized they really didn’t care about [harming] us. I don’t know if it was that they didn’t know what we were, or we were just another piece of the ocean to them…like a shipwreck or a reef. Sure, they were curious, but enough to do something to us?
“I didn’t feel that at all.”
Smoove, who was scuba-certified along with his wife — “You can’t go on vacation and say, ‘Baby, I’m going diving, see you later!” — said his first diving experience won’t be his last.
“It’s definitely something I would like to do again,” he said. “I can’t say I would go shark-diving, specifically, but I will say this much: it’s just beautiful when the water is so crystal-clear and you can see the sun shining through the water and the boat above you.
“You look up and go, ‘Wow, man.’”