I’m a big, big fan of Kevin Smith. I love the man’s flicks (Chasing Amy and Dogma are my favorites, but I’m also very partial to the lunacy of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), but some of my favorite of his projects are not actually his films. I hold great, enormous amounts of love for the six-episode Clerks cartoon, and I think the commentary tracks for Mallrats and Chasing Amy are pretty much two of my favorite things ever — to say that they are endlessly entertaining is to undersell their greatness. But probably my favorite thing that Mr. Smith has ever been involved with is An Evening with Kevin Smith.
This two-DVD set was released back in 2002, and contains lengthy excerpts from a series of six Q & A sessions that Mr. Smith conducted at a variety of colleges. Kids ask questions, and Smith answers. That’s it. Those were the shows, and that’s the DVD. That might sound like it could be dry, but I can’t put into words just how fascinating and insightful and hilarious the result is. Smith reveals himself on the DVD as one of the best tellers of ripping yarns on planet Earth. He’ll take what sounds like a simple question and turn it into an extended anecdote that will have you on your knees with laughter. I have watched An Evening with Kevin Smith through many, many times, and at one point or another I’ve made pretty much everyone I know listen to Smith’s Superman Returns and Prince stories. So funny. (Chaka mad? Chaka REAL mad!)
I also, of course, devoured the two DVD follow-ups that presented later Q & A sessions — the very cleverly titled An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder, and A Threevening with Kevin Smith. (Click here to read my review of the Threevening DVD.) When I read that Mr. Smith was coming to Boston to conduct one of these Q & A sessions, I immediately snapped up tickets to go!
The show — held this past Thursday night at the House of Blues in Boston — was as phenomenal as I’d hoped. Things started off really well, when Smith took a fan’s simple question about whether the criteria by which he judges his success has changed at all over the years and launched into a very funny forty-minute monologue of anecdotes within anecdotes in which he discussed his current obsession with pot, the time he smoked pot with Seth Rogen after finishing up Zach and Miri Make a Porno, a recent pot experience with his wife Jen, and the very first disastrous time that he and Jen smoked pot together, among other topics.
Other highlights of the show included a phenomenal story about Smith’s friend Malcolm Ingram and the Prom Bus; Smith’s description of his joy at discovering the wonder of fleshlights, and a fascinating — albeit rather sad — discussion about Bruce Willis’ behavior on the set of Cop Out. I think the fan who asked the question expected Smith to be coy about which individual he found difficult on the set, but as always Smith’s incredible frankness was on display. He laid out for us his disappointment at the way his one-time hero Bruce Willis behaved so poorly to him on the set of that film, refusing to take any direction and clearly displaying his disinterest in the film. This illuminating story contains everything one needs to know, I think, about why that buddy cop movie failed. When Smith describes how he basically had to make the movie AROUND Mr. Willis, what more need be said?
I’d heard that these Q & A sessions could be epically long, and Mr. Smith did not disappoint as he stood on stage for well over three hours talking. I was quite impressed! Especially since I found the experience of watching the session live (as opposed to on the comfort of my own couch at home, when I can easily pause the DVD to hit the head or to stretch my legs) to be a bit of an endurance test — and I was just sitting in the audience! (Sadly, the folding chairs that the House of Blues had set up for the audience on the floor were not exactly comfort-city.) Still, I could have sat there listening to Smith talk for many more hours. The man is, quite simply, a riot.
I was also very impressed at the way with which he handled many of the, um, let’s just say less-than-normal folks who got up to ask questions. There were some weird dudes on display, many of whom were more concerned with telling their life story than with actually asking Smith a question. While he could so easily have been mean to these folks, making fun of them for an easy laugh, Smith was patient and gentle. He was able to make jokes that allowed the audience to laugh, without ever making fun of the questioner or belittling them. It was skillfully done. (I also really appreciated his kindness in apologizing to the audience for coming out at 8:10 when the show had been scheduled for 8. How many concerts or performances has anyone reading this gone to that started long, long after the supposed start-time printed on the ticket?? And have you ever heard a performer apologize for that?? Never. Such a nice act by Mr. Smith, and it’s a great example of the respect that he continually demonstrates for his fans.)
It was a great privilege to be able to attend one of these Q & As live. Looking forward to the next DVD, and to Smith’s promised return to Boston!