Saturday, May 5, 2012

Jay and Silent Bob Get Old

In an echo of sentiments that I've made in the past about people like Ian McKellen, John Cleese and Olivia Newton John, I had never at any point expected that I would one day have the chance to see writer/director Kevin Smith live on stage – in fact, in a way, it was even less likely than those other people, since they all have a history of live performance and Smith (until fairly recently) was purely a filmmaker. But in the last few years he's taken to doing public 'performances' - including sellout shows at the Sydney Opera House and a seven-hour long Q&A session in New Jersey in 2005 – and selling tickets to those; thus began what appears to be a successful sideline career.

This has evolved into doing regular series of podcasts with assorted different people including his wife, Jennifer Schwalbach; producer and View Askewniverse performer Scott Mosier (the official name for what is now a network of recordings is SModcast - S for Smith and M for Mosier, since the first of them featured those two); and Jason Mewes, who portrayed Jay in all the View Askewniverse films alongside Smith as Silent Bob – and the name for the Smith/Mewes show is Jay and Silent Bob Get Old.

And at some point they decided to bring that show to Australia.

Smith, of course, is most well known for his writing and directing the cult stoner/slacker classics Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; the less well-received Clerks II, Zack and Miri Make A Porno and Cop Out (though he only directed that one) – as well as the much-maligned Jersey Girls1. His most recent film, Red State, was a radical departure in style, bearing no resemblance to his earlier works – I noticed only one line in the entire film that sounded even vaguely like something that could have appeared in an earlier work.

I was – and, to an extent, still am, a huge fan of Smith's work. Well, the early stuff at least. Clerks is a seminal 90s film, and one of the first non-mainstream movies I ever saw; I am certain it helped steer me in the direction that I took in terms of preferred forms of entertainment.

For me this scene where Randal from the video store lists all the pornos he needs from the distributor is one of the funniest of all time (audibly NSFW):

I also love Chasing Amy - for this scene in particular (also audibly NSFW) where comic artist Hooper X decries the lack of good sci-fi/fantasy role models for black children:

Mallrats, Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike back all have their moments, too, mostly thanks to Smith's ability to write hilarious characters and scenes featuring razor-sharp dialogue and analyses of society, religion, sexuality and pop culture.

Anyway, to the pSModcast. Smith emerged from the wings of the Thebarton Theatre and announced that – to my amazement; not sure if anyone else already knew – we'd be getting two shows instead of just the one, because they'd be doing a 'proper' SModcast with Smith and Mosier first and then (after an interval) the Jay & Silent Bob show.

Pretty good deal.

Smith and Mosier, once they got going, talked about a bunch of things; how good Adelaide weed is; how scary the world thinks Adelaide is; what ANZAC day is; strange Australian terms (e.g. 'bludger'); rugby vs. Aussie Rules football and other random things. A big part was about how weird they found Australia – in particular, Scott had found a list of Australian sayings on the internet, so he read those out and they puzzled over them while the audience yelled out explanations.

Anyway, rather than me describing it, you can listen to the whole thing here. Somewhere around halfway through they end up having a discussion about Australian explorers Burke and Wills, and Mosier was trying to explain to Smith who they were, so I yelled out 'Lewis and Clarke' – a somewhat equivalent pair from the US; it's not loud, but if you listen carefully you can hear me shouting it out.

It was a pretty entertaining show; the two of them (Smith in particular) are great conversationalists who never slowed down for even a second – it all just flowed out. It's easy to see from the way he speaks how he can come up with the great dialogue that's his trademark.

We had a break then – which was a good thing; I have a bit of a shoulder problem that gets exacerbated whenever I'm cramped up, and with seated gigs at Thebbie they pack as many people in as possible, meaning some serious discomfort for anyone who isn't a slightly-built midget.

Now it was time for Jay & Silent Bob.

Smith was still wearing the same custom hockey jersey thing he was wearing before, and Jason Mewes was wearing a strange sort of adult onesie but with a weird elasticised waist that made it look – presumably for toilet purposes.

Anyway, the content of the show was quite different from the SModcast; it was far more sexual – it appears the fairly standard format for the shows: Smith prompts Mewes to recount, in graphic detail, a sexual encounter or series thereof. And the second half involves getting people up on stage to act out sexual positions – made up by Smith and/or suggested via people on Twitter – with Mewes.

This was reasonably funny, thought not exactly to my taste; I would have preferred to hear more from Smith. But I didn't bother to do any research, so I've no-one to blame but myself. Of course, it wouldn't have stopped me going; it only would have prepared me for what took place.

Probably the most interesting part – for me at least – was Smith's explanation for the original purpose of his getting Mewes in front of a microphone: apparently, it's a way of giving him some purpose, ostensibly keeping him from getting back into drugs – which he's had some very serious problems with over the years; you can read more about that here. And, given that he's (as far as I'm aware) clean, and the shows have been successful enough that they've been selling out shows all over the world, it's worked out pretty well.

And that's pretty much it.Unfortunately, the Adelaide show doesn't appear to have been made into a podcast – at least not one I can locate – so I can't direct you to a place where you can listen to it. But you can check out their podcasts here.

It was pretty surreal – and definitely entertaining – experience, and I'm damn glad I got the opportunity.

1I've not seen Jersey Girls, so I can't comment on it – other than to say that everyone I've ever asked about it hates it with a fiery passion.

1 comment:

  1. This was reasonably funny, thought not exactly to my taste; I would have preferred to hear more from Smith.
    Thanks for sharing with us.