'Clerks' director Kevin Smith on his 'filthy' new book and his unlikely collaboration with Mitch Albom
Potty-mouthed auteur Kevin Smith wants you to know that he feels bad about being a book author. “Yeah, I feel a little guilty,” says Smith in his Manhattan hotel room. “I feel like a carpetbagger. Or, at worst, a f–king fraud, man. Because an author’s John Grisham. Or Stephen King. Dude, I‘m sure even Ann Coulter sits down and writes her f—ing psycho-babble.” Smith, on the other hand, did not deliberately set out to write any of his three books. 2005’s Silent Bob Speaks was a round-up of previously penned essays while 2007’s My Boring A– Life was a round-up of his blogging. Smith’s new publication, Shootin’ The Sh– with Kevin Smith, involved even less writing than the previous two tomes. The book features transcriptions of the regular podcast (or “Smodcast,” to use the preferred nomenclature) Smith conducts with his producer Scott Mosier in which the pair consider such weighty topics as how soon they would start having sex with each other if they found themselves on the Lost island.
Smith also has a presumably lucrative sideline as a comics writer—his Batman: Cacophony collection is currently the bestselling graphic novel in the country—though the director insists that profit is not his primary goal when it comes to his publishing endeavors. “It’s always nice to have a an extra little scratch” says the man who brought us Clerks, Dogma and the forthcoming A Couple of Dicks, which stars Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. “But, let’s be honest, it’s not like there’s a f—ing shit ton of money in publishing. I do it because I slap it in front of the wife and she’s like, ‘Wow.’ She’s impressed by literature. She’s not really impressed by film. Or, if she is, she’s not really impressed by my films.”
After the break, Smith uses more salty language (and we really can’t emphasize that point enough) to discuss the book, why Ben Affleck is unlikely to ever feature on his podcast, and his surprising collaboration with Five People You Meet in Heaven author Mitch Albom.
Entertainment Weekly: I laughed out loud many times reading the book. But it was very hard explaining to my friends why I was laughing without sounding like I was deranged and possibly dangerous.
Kevin Smith: The contents are just sickening and filthy. As you keep going through the book it’s like you’re wading through bodily fluids, constantly. It’s coming out of this orifice or that orifice. It’s dirty.
Probably the funniest chapter is when you portray a guy from the Make-A-Wish Foundation who is trying, at some length, to get Mosier to watch some critically ill guy commit a sex act before he dies.
I forgot about that one. That was funny. Sections like that, they go on. Him and I sit down and go, “Alright we’re on the Oceanic airliner, and we went down, and we’re on the Lost island, and nobody else is there. But they’ve got the polar bear and the f—ing smoke cloud. How long before we start having sex with one another?” And then we just go. Those are the conversations I’ve been having with friends for years. I just thought about actually recording it.
So, if you hadn’t become a film director, would you be having these conversations with friends anyway, just for kicks?
I would probably be back in Jersey at a convenience store trying to do this with anybody that came through the door. Which would have been futile. Because most people are like, “Can I have my f—ing cigarettes, dude? I don’t want to talk about (committing sex acts) on Lost.” So, thank god, I got to work in a business where that kind of thing is cherished.
How much do you prepare before a podcast?
Once in a while, if somebody sends me a link, or I see a weird story, I’ll throw it into a folder (in case) we have nothing to talk about that week. We did that more in the beginning. I used to sit there and smoke cigarettes and we’d just chit-chat. Now I sit there and smoke weed. So it’s got weirder and weirder.
You’ve blogged about the fact that you’ve recently become quite a pothead. I could smell the marijuana way down the hotel corridor, by the way.
Oh, yeah, yeah. It just hits you like a wall. So I’m sitting there smoking weed like a f—ing chimney and Mosier’s not a weed smoker, but he’s getting the contact high. So it gets tripper and trippier.
You’ve worked with a lot of very famous people over the years, but you rarely talk about them in the podcasts. Has Ben Affleck, for example, ever called you to say, “Just a reminder, when you do your gay-Lost-fantasy thing, please do not mention me!”
The idea was always, it’s us talking to each other. In the beginning we talked about, “Wouldn’t it be cool to do this with Alan Rickman, blah-blah-blah.” People kept saying, “You’ve got to do it with Ben, you’ve got to do it with Ben.” And Ben I can kind of understand by virtue of the fact we’ve known him for a long time, and he’s an awesome talker. But, at the same time, he can’t do what me and Mosier do. If he starts talking about (having sex on Lost) it winds up on Page Six: “Affleck lost his mind yakking with the f—ing fat Clerks director.” If we even get a mention! They don’t even need us at that point. They’re like, “We’ve gotten our headline!” When we were doing A Couple of Dicks everyone’s like, “Do one with Willis, do one with Tracy Morgan.” I’m like, “That’s too chat showy.” Unless they can kind of kick back. And, having worked with Bruce, Bruce is not the type of guy where I’m like, “Okay Bruce, man, we’re on the Oceanic f—ing flight. It goes down…” Bruce would be like, “What are you talking about? This is dumb. I’m going to get out of here. Goodbye Kev.” He just wouldn’t engage like that.
What’s your next movie project?
I want to make a hockey movie, Hit Somebody, based on a Warren Zevon song that Mitch Albom wrote the lyrics for. So Mitch and I have become very friendly. It’s so strange, because he had a book coming out this week and Mitch is an author, you know what I’m saying? He was talking about his book tour and s— like that. And he was like, “What are you doing next week?” I was like, “Yeah, I got kind of a book tour too.” He was “Really? You’ve got a book?”
“I didn’t know you could read, let alone write!”
Yeah. He was so adorable. I was talking to him about Twitter. He was like, “So I’ve got this book coming out, and my publisher’s talking about how it would be good for me to be on Twitter. She says check out your page. So I go on to your page and I read about how you’re planning to have sex with your wife, and if that doesn’t work you’re going to masturbate while looking at pictures of her. And I realized that I’m out of Twitter.” So there’s a nice little gap between me and Mitch. But we find this weird common ground. Both of our material has lots of heart to it. I’m just not as talented as Mitch, so I dress it up with a lot of dirty words.