Kevin Smith Signs Sh*t In NYC
We here at WAMG are massive fans of Kevin Smith. Out of all of us, I’m definitely the biggest. Don’t believe me? Here’s the last article I posted on this site – 37 REASONS (in a row) WHY KEVIN SMITH SHOULD PRESENT STUCK LIKE CHUCK. As the title suggests, it is a list of 37 reasons why the new label created by Smodcast Pictures & Phase 4 Films should release my no-budget directorial debut. While caked in self-promotion, the article is fairly light-hearted and actually does offer some insights into the world of indie film. The day after I posted it, I received an email from Phase 4 requesting a screener. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I immediately sent a DVD their way and have been playing the waiting game since.
And with that bit of backstory established, we can move on to the meat of the article…
Tuesday March 20th marked the release of Kevin Smith’s new book TOUGH SH*T: LIFE ADVICE FROM A FAT LAZY SLOB WHO DID GOOD. Unlike his previous books, this one is not simply a collection of essays, blog posts or transcribed podcasts. TOUGH SH*T is a funny, inspiring and heartfelt autobiography from a man who is already known for being an open book. And with great books, come great signings. Smith is currently in the midst of a 6-city book tour that started in Ridgewood, New Jersey and ends in Chicago on March 30th. I caught up with him on Wednesday at his second stop, New York City.
I arrived at the Union Square Barnes & Noble around 4:20 pm; an ironic time for those who know Smith. The book signing was set to begin at 7 pm and the line was to start forming at 5. I waited on the line that was waiting to get in line. It was less than 30 seconds before I was in the middle of an insanely geeky but utterly fascinating conversation between the people in front and behind me. A bulk of our time was spent trying to guess from memory every Academy Award Best Picture Winner from THE ARTIST to WINGS. The game expanded as more people joined in. Yes, the people that show up to a Kevin Smith signing are just as nerdy as you assumed.
Eventually the time came for Kevin to take the stage. He started by saying there was a fine line between entertainer and being entertained, then read a tweet that someone in the room had sent out just moments earlier.
Waiting for @thatkevinsmith To speak at b&n in union square… If this sucks at least I can go visit the cats at Petco next door – @Snowtreds
Kevin then asked the audience if we wanted to do a straightforward book signing or mostly Q & A. We ended up with roughly 90 minutes of Q & A followed by a signing. I did not know there would be a Q & A, nor did I plan to write this article, so I unfortunately did not take any notes. However, here are some poorly paraphrased highlights I do remember:
- Kevin likes that he doesn’t go the traditional route when making movies & that he doesn’t do what’s usually expected. In other words, he considers himself an “ass man” even when it comes to making movies.
- Gayle King (“you know, Oprah’s best friend”) loves TOUGH SH*T & read a vulgar passage out loud to Kevin when he was at a morning show taping.
- JERSEY GIRL will always have a special place in his heart, even if only because George Carlin loved his role & his experience on the film.
- He doesn’t think his version of Green Hornet would not have translated well on the big screen.
- Kevin likes to bond with his daughter Harley Quinn through the magic of song. More specifically, the song ‘Joseph Smith American Moses’ from THE BOOK OF MORMON. Their favorite part, “Joseph Smith, don’t f*ck the baby”
- He also gave a brief rundown of the entire play while re-enacting a few moments. He basically called it the greatest piece of art man has ever created. And yes, it was awesome enough to warrant two bullet points.
- While drunk on Pink Zinfandel, Kevin got a tattoo of the Mad Hatter because he is “always late.” When showing Scott Mosier afterwards, Scott reminded him that it is actually the White Rabbit who is always late.
- He would love to see a remake of A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS but he is not the one to make it. Ironically, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS is one of the Best Picture winners that all of us had trouble remembering during our game. Every time he mentioned the movie, our row started laughing.
- He told a story about the first book signing he was part of at the Union Square Barnes & Noble. It was for John Pierson’s book SPIKE, MIKE, SLACKERS & DYKES. Prior to the signing, Michael Moore was talking about how he thought his career was over after CANADIAN BACON flopped. When Michael Moore was called on stage, the room went wild. Afterwards, Moore told Kevin & John that he thinks he might write a book. He witnessed the rebirth of Michael Moore at that signing.
- Kevin got a bit teary-eyed when talking about his father & telling a great story about a special way he said good night to his parents. He also talked about how he would get pulled out of school most Wednesdays to go to the movies with his dad. He said these stories were in the book so I’ll leave it at that so you can read them yourself.
After being told time was up, Kevin took 2 more questions before launching into the signing. A B&N employee announced that to save time, everyone would get only 1 picture & 1 non-personalized signature on the book cover. Their timesaving techniques were futile though since Kevin loves chatting with his fans. It was hilarious seeing the look of panic on the employee faces when he took over a minute with just one person. The next went up with a cell phone in hand so Kevin could talk with someone they called. Just before it was my turn to walk over, someone told me that he is taking too long and starting with me they want everyone to keep their encounter brief.
I walked over to Kevin, shook his hand, posed for a picture and he signed my book. I was a mess of nerves until I started speaking and a wave of calmness washed over me. I let him know that 6 years ago he gave me some advice that always stuck with me and is probably the single biggest reason why I even attempted to make my first feature film. He raised his hand as if to give me a high-five. I went for it but instead he caught my hand and held it up like a sign of victory. For a man as verbose as Kevin, he didn’t have to say anything. I’m sure it is a sentiment he hears often but he seemed to genuinely appreciate how much he has inspired me. We then talked a bit about the film, reviews, casting and even touched on my festival experience. I had become THAT guy the people running the event feared most. Finally Kevin asked what my flick was called. I told him STUCK LIKE CHUCK. His eyes widened and he responded, “You’re the cat who did STUCK LIKE CHUCK!”
Holy shit. My jaw-dropped. I could barely give him a positive reply. I felt like Jaimie in JINGLE ALL THE WAY.
“He knows my film”
He said that he heard a little about SLC, mostly on Twitter, and he even saw that 37 Reasons article I posted. I was in complete disbelief. We started discussing the new distribution label and he let me in on how the selection process works. Before I left, I gave him a DVD screener along with some SLC promo materials, just in case. I thanked him again and walked away. At least I think I walked away. I may have floated or skipped. To be honest, I don’t really recall any of the trip from the stage to the front of the store.
It is not often that you get the opportunity to personally thank a celebrity for being a major influence on your life. Then again, most celebrities are not like Kevin Smith. And for those of you out there sick of reading my posts about how Kevin Smith has inspired me, TOUGH SH*T.