RED BANK, NJ—Last night I was fortunate enough to be offered a last minute ticket to see Kevin Smith’s return to the city of his birth, Red Bank, NJ, for an evening of storytelling and question answering. I had seen the first of the three “Evening With Kevin Smith” DVDs some time ago, and been thoroughly entertained over the course of the two discs that were recorded at several college appearances.
When I arrived, I learned that the last time that Kevin appeared at the venerable, and newly refurbished Count Basie Theatre, he had spoken for seven hours. Now, I like Kevin as much as the next person, but that seemed a bit extreme, and I was already plotting the escape I would make after a couple of hours. When he hit the stage though, Kevin made it clear that he was only going to speak for three or four hours this time out. Still, it seemed rather daunting to me. Even Bruce Springsteen doesn’t play for four hours anymore.
The audience itself was interesting. Fanboys, costumed superheroes, and movie fans all mingled in the sold-out house. Some had come in pajamas, anticipating another long evening. There were jerseys reflecting Kevin’s Leonardo roots (and the setting for his first film, Clerks).
The first hour or so found Kevin in full story mode. After airing his disappointment at the book office receipts for the opening week of his new film, Zack And Miri Make A Porno, he felt the need to address his rather obvious weight gain. To illustrate the problems related to his added girth, he told a hysterically funny, and blissfully profane account of a toilet that couldn’t quite handle his presence, the tragedy that followed, and the mortification that resulted.
Next he connected the weight gain to the joys of his rediscovery of marijuana, and the eating binges it inspires in him. The combination of the pot, the 103” TV that he was given by Panasonic, and the advent of Blu-Ray discs, have resulted in a very content, but very inert Kevin Smith.
Then it was time for questions and answers, and hopefuls lined up at four stations in the hall. There was a lot of fawning, and a lot of “Thank you, sir,” but there were also some good questions about Kevin’s process, and future plans, lots of Star Wars talk, and comic book discussion. Movie fans found satisfaction in some inside dope on filmmaking technique, and dealing with recalcitrant actors. There were some touching reminiscences about George Carlin, who appeared in two Smith films, Dogma, and Jersey Girl.
Answers could be as long as 30 minutes, and were never dismissive, no matter how silly the question might have seemed. The audience also felt free to add their two-cents at any given moment. In his final act of the evening, Kevin romantically united a young man and woman who had driven platonically from Ohio for the show, to the audience’s delight.
At no time did I feel like leaving, even as the evening wore on, and on. True to his opening remarks, Kevin went for just over four hours, and was completely engaging, uproariously funny, and truly interesting throughout. It’s not a show for the kids, but a great one for anyone with a ribald sense of humor. There are very few celebrities in any field that are as forthcoming about their personal lives as Kevin Smith. There is no question that he seems unwilling to answer, and his responses are always unflinchingly honest, and boldly impious. The straight talk express indeed.