Kevin Smith just put out a book called Shootin’ the Sh*t with Kevin Smith. It’s a transcript of the best bits from SModcast, the podcast he does with his producer Scott Mosier. SModcast is basically just Smith and Mosier talking about movies and sex and Harry Potter and Helen Keller and whatever else comes up.
I didn’t have particularly high expectations when I picked up the book. I mean, it’s unbelievably profane and tasteless, and I expected that. But the weird thing is that in other ways it’s the exact opposite of what you’d expect. It’s not rambling and funny-at-the-time-but-not-now. It’s actually really coherent and dense with information and tightly argued. You kind of can’t believe they came up with this stuff on the fly. Especially considering that one or both of them were probably high a lot of the time. It turned out to be one of the funniest things I’ve read this year.
Smith was in town a few weeks ago, and I dropped by his hotel. He was in bed wearing a robe. He looked up at me and said, “Are you man enough to lie in bed with another man?”
I am. And I did.
Lev Grossman: So why do a SModcast book?
Kevin Smith: It wasn’t my idea. It was Titan, the publishers, the British publishers. They approached me a couple of years ago and they like the blog — this dude named Adam liked it. He asked what I would think if they published the blog. I said I would be flattered, but its f___ing free online, nobody is going to buy the book. He said that he didn’t know and it’s a good read and that not everyone has access to the internet at all times and let’s give it a shot. It went out there and we thought maybe that like 5,000 fans would buy it if we were lucky.
Like a week after it came out he called and said it hit the New York Times bestseller list. And I was like, how? We still don’t know how, but I know it wasn’t payola. Titan got no money. They’re broke. So that made Titan want to do a next book.
They were talking about a dopey interview book, but I hate talking about my career. Stephen Spielberg can talk about his movies, because he’s made so many different ones and in so many genres. It’s all over the map. I can’t sit down and talk about my movies for more than 20 minutes without getting embarrassed. I don’t know if he sensed that I wasn’t into it, but Adam wrote me an email five months ago suggesting taking SModcast and transcribing it. I said, that’s worse than the f___ing blog book. But he transcribed one of them and sent it to me and I thought it was really funny, but I’m not the guy. Of course I think its funny, I’m my own biggest f___ing fan.
So I sent it to Mosier, who hates everything. He doesn’t even listen to SModcast because he hates his own voice. He said it was really funny and that he had no idea we were this funny because he doesn’t listen to SModcast. So I said, this works, and we were off to the races.
Is it possible to go too far on SModcast?
Oh, God yes. Absolutely.
Have you ever thought afterwards, oh s___, That was over the line?
Never on anything that has ever gone out. But in the recording? Yeah. We just did an episode on Israel and the Middle East. Thorny as f___. We sat there and talked for two hours, and I was sitting there listening to it afterward and editing, going like [he pretends to be listening, nodding]: … letters .. this will get us killed … we obviously have no idea what we’re talking about … this sounds dangerously anti-semitic … you know, just pulling s___ out.
And then also it’s a f___ing entertainment show. We’re sitting around joking. The moment you start talking about real issues … At one point I sort of got on a soapbox about child rape and child murder. Take a dude into a f___ing dirty shack, shoot him in each limb, and if he can make it to the hospital, fine. Then he goes to jail. We were doing it comedically, but you could definitely tell I’m kind of a strong death penalty advocate.
That one’s in the book.
I got so much s___ for that episode. People got so pissed off and said, “You call your self a Christian?” After that episode I thought, it ain’t worth it. Let’s just be funny and stick to being funny. Then the only thing that’s taboo on the show is when we get really long winded and boring. And that happens.
What about blowback from your family, do you ever get that?
No. When I first told my brother we were doing it I was like, listen to this, I talk about this one thing we did when we were kids. He listened to it, and loved it, and said don’t ever let mom listen to this. But mom was there last night [at a public SModcast recording]. I don’t think she’d ever listened to a SModcast, but she was there for the entire thing. She just sits there red and smiling the whole time because she’s so embarrassed.
But she loves it in a weird way. In the beginning she was like, “All anyone’s going to think I did was curse around you! These movies make me look terrible as a parent!” Now, 15 years in, she’s met the fan base and gone to events. My brother runs the fulfillment center where we sell all the merchandise, it’s down in Florida now, and my mother goes in all the time to help fulfill the orders. She enjoys it. She writes notes to people all the time. She writes long handwritten notes and includes them in their packages. People absolutely love it. But the teenager in me is f___ing mortified.
Not from your wife or anything?
No. Because she’s been on it. She knows the deal. I remember one SModcast when she was on, and I was talking about sex with her, and to her, and then I think I went too far. I started talking about very deep specifics, and she gave me the wave.
OK, non-SModcast question: are we ever going to see you direct a superhero movie? [Say yes say yes say yes ...]
I don’t think so, dude. [DAMMIT.] Why bother after Chris Nolan made The Dark Knight? Every comic book movie is never going to measure up to that, so why be the guy that made the bad Green Hornet movie?
You really think that?
Absolutely. I believe in being responsible in filmmaking. If someone told me I could do my own Batman movie, I would be like, wow, that is thrilling, but let’s give it to someone that can do something with it.
What is it — like, the technical aspects?
Yeah. I’m just not that guy. I’m bored by action filmmaking. We just did A Couple of Dicks here in the city all summer long, and there are more action sequences in it than anything I’ve ever done before. And those action sequences were like pulling f___ing teeth with me. You spend two days shooting storyboards and nobody is talking. That’s just not why I got into it.
The big ambition for me right now is a hockey movie. That will be a real test of visual storytelling skills. I mean, on A Couple of Dicks I think me and my DP Dave Klein definitely notched it up. I don’t think anybody’s going to believe I directed the movie, because it looks slick and good. I want to take what we learned there and bring it into the hockey flick, and that will have a lot of action. When you go to a live hockey game, it’s f___ing crazy. It’s the best sport you’ve ever seen — it’s the best thing you’ve ever seen. It goes beyond sports at some point and becomes this beautiful, poetic ballet, where dudes in costumes are skating, but it’s not the Ice Capades, and they’re hitting each other, and there’s an aim and a goal … I want to try and represent what it’s like to be there, watching the game, and so far that hasn’t really come across on film. We’re going to try it.
I think I’m ready for it. I’ve been doing this, I started in ’93, so like 16 years. You just get better at s___ the longer you do it, even if you start off being inept at it. You look at Clerks, that is inept filmmaking. That’s a guy that watched three Hal Hartley movies and four Jim Jarmusch movies and said I think I’m ready. I learned on the job.
Are you going to go in front of the camera for that one?
I don’t think so, man. I think I’m kind of done. Me on skates, f___ it. My ankles would snap. I’m out there enough, like on stage Q-and-Aing and stuff, that takes care of any desire to be in front of people. Like I did Jimmy Fallon the other night, and as fun as it was, I was dreading it the whole time, because, uhhhh [groans] gotta get up on TV, people looking at you — “he put on some f___ing weight, and what’s he wearing a f___ing robe for?” And all that s___. If I’m sitting in the audience looking at me, I don’t even know if I’d hear what I’d say. I’d just be like, does he know how fat he’s gotten? This is dangerous. Why are they laughing. We should be rushing him and bringing him to Cedars-Sinai and forcing him into a program!
Silent Bob was just something — like we were making Clerks, and I didn’t know if I’d ever make another movie, and I at least wanted to be in it…But I am so done with that. I’m going to be 40 dude, I can’t spin my backwards baseball cap anymore without people being like, is this Halloween? Are you trying to be a Little f___ing’ Rascal?
But to be honest I’ve tried on hats and the only hat that looks good on me is a backwards baseball cap. Nothing else works. I’ve even tried spinning the f___er around. I look like a fat trucker.