Well, sort of. I didn’t sit down for a one on one with the man but I did get to see him in person and (very briefly) meet him with a handshake.
I have been following Smith since I was fourteen and was first shown Mallrats. That quickly led to me rushing out and buying Clerks (on VHS) and watching it over and over. The jokes were funny and relatable since they talked about comics and Star Wars. I loved how the story moved through chapters. I loved the dialogue and even tried to expand my own vocabulary in everyday life. Crude humor and nerdy jokes could be well written and well spoken. It wasn’t low brow in the least. Jay and Silent Bob were hilarious. Randall is infinitely relatable to anyone who has had to work a crap job they didn’t necessarily care for. But there was something else, something more. Something that took me a little while to place. At fifteen and sixteen I became more interested in making movies. How they were made, how they were written, everything that went into even the simplest scene. I started reading biographies and how-to books. I still watched Clerks over and over along with the rest of Smith’s library that was out at the time. What struck me was that Smith, while being a celebrity and someone who lives and works in Hollywood, was a regular guy.
Calling Kevin Smith a regular guy isn’t an insult or a slight in anyway. In fact I mean it as the highest compliment. He came from humble beginnings with no connections to Hollywood, professional writing, or anything that I didn’t have access to myself. He had a loving family and determination. I don’t need to go into a full biography. Along with being a phenomenal writer and entertainer he is very forthcoming about his entire life and catalogues it daily in blogs, on twitter, through his films, writing comics, and his extensively amazing podcast network. Go look into all of it.
With that history I remained a fan of his films, listened to his commentaries, enjoyed the extra features he made sure to stuff on every DVD since he was just a big a fan of films as his fans are. But I will admit I didn’t pursue it further for a little while. I would read articles he wrote from time to time or find out that ‘that director I like wrote a comic book.’ I went through a rough patch. Unemployment, working for less money than I made when I was fourteen and first discovered Kevin Smith even though I had a college degree, and then finally getting a job but finding out it was for a very sketchy company and was a terrible job. In that time I stumbled into Kevin Smith’s podcast network. I started catching up on shows and subscribing to all the new ones. The entertainment value of it got me through long days at a terrible job but, like his movies, there was something more.
The way Smith would go from making me laugh hysterically to self reflection of his life, career, past, present, and future was relatable. Yet again a man I never met was making me feel better about my own life while entertaining me in such a way that I never knew I was being brought back to school. Through the entertainment and life lessons Kevin Smith also inspired me to try harder. To take some risks. I started writing. I didn’t try to do my own version of Clerks, I didn’t even try to write a movie right away. I just wrote. Reviews, blogs, stories. Most are lost permanently but it got my brain working again.
When “Tough Sh*t” came out I didn’t even have money to buy it. I was catching up on car payments and student loans that were drowning me since I went from unemployed to making a meager salary with a company that would steal from employee’s paychecks. My sister sent me a copy and I read it cover to cover in two days. Again I was being entertained, uplifted, and had a strong desire to better myself as well as create. I started looking for angles. I took classes on writing. I took classes on improving my professional day job skills. I redoubled my efforts in my small business. I met connections in my personal life and tried to learn as much as I could from them, as I did and still do with Kevin Smith.
To make my ramblings a little shorter I started what I hope will soon become my future. I started learning how to invest and make money in real estate. This move was at least 70% motivated by Kevin Smith and made possible by someone who has become a good friend.
A man who started his career with a low budget black and white comedy ended up shaping what looks to be the rest of my life in a field that he has nothing to do with. That is how inspirational Kevin Smith has been to me directly.
So when I drove the four and a half hours to Buffalo NY to wait in a sold out comedy club to see Kevin Smith, I was floored. I was never one to try and hunt celebrity. I went to LA and saw the sights but didn’t try to meet anybody. I did try and see Smith’s Hollywood Babble-On show but they were off the Friday I was in LA. My table at the show in Buffalo was touching the small stage. I sat where the entrance ramp for the talent met the stage. I sat captivated for over two hours while Smith entertained and inspired like only he can. I brought my copy of Tough Sh*t but there was no time for a meet and greet. I did get to shake Smith’s hand after the show and he acknowledged my thank you message on Twitter. Small gestures that really mean a lot to someone who is still struggling to establish their path but have the tools and determination to do so.
This was more of a story/rambling than a review but I hope the message got through. I hope someone who was a casual fan will dig a little deeper and find what I found. I hope someone who didn’t have Smith on their radar will check into it and get something out of it. At the very least you’ll be thoroughly entertained if not inspired.