Feb 2012 10

by Fred Topel

“The last two years I was all about eradicating my fears and shit.”
– Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith is used to working a crowd. His forte career-wise is really as a public speaker at his live Q&A shows. His movies made him a name and he still makes them. Well, at least he’s making one more. But his bread and butter has been live shows. He can take a question and spin it into a 20 minute anecdote and keep the crowd laughing along the way.

The Television Critics Association could have been a tough room for Smith. An organization of veteran critics from the print days of newspapers, they gather twice a year to work, not to humor performers. So when Smith had a new AMC television series to present to the TCA, he took the mic and answered questions. He joked about how he’s enjoying talking to the TV press, because they don’t hate him yet like the film press do.

It has been a tumultuous year for Smith in the film world. He premiered Red State at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011, and then auctioned the film off to himself to take the film on the road and self-distribute. After saying on Twitter that he would not do press or screen the film for press, many of Smith’s loyal followers began lashing out, even more so after the “auction.” Yet Smith has been on the road with Red State, giving Q&As at sold out shows and the film is now available on VOD, Netflix and DVD/Blu-ray.

Comic Book Men is a reality series set in Smith’s New Jersey comic book store, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. The dialogue between the staffers behind the counter may feel very similar to Smith’s movie Clerks, but he’s not writing any of it. It’s all real. After his TCA session, I found Smith in the hall of the Langham Hotel in Pasadena and I asked him for a follow-up interview. We ended up doing a full interview, ironic for someone who threatened to stop doing press. Our talk veered away from the TV show as a follow-up on his new distribution venture lead to spiritual life lessons, which only underscores the point that a conversation with Smith can really be about anything and go anywhere. It all ties into the voice that is making his final film, Hit Somebody, and launched the new TV venture Comic Book Men.

Read our exclusive interview with Kevin Smith on