Clad in his trademark blue and orange “Fatman” hockey sweater (jersey number 37), Kevin Smith answered fan questions with Hollywood aplomb Sunday night during the first of his four sold-out shows at Helium Comedy Club in Buffalo. His remaining two sold-out shows are Monday night.
Smith opened the show with a story about seeing “Mad Max: Fury Road” earlier in the day, when he and a friend snuck $40 worth of groceries into the movie theater because he’s eating healthier, then promised to answer two hours worth of fan questions, “which may seem like a lot, but if you know me, it’s like two questions,” he said.
He wasn’t kidding. Smith spent about 45 minutes answering the first question – about the progress of his “Mallrats” sequel titled “Mallbrats” – when he told the audience about his relationship with Hollywood producer James Jacks, who died unexpectedly last year. Jacks produced “Mallrats” and continued to encourage Smith for a follow-up film, then titled “Mallrats 2: Die Hard in a Mall.” Smith talked of his sadness about falling out of touch with Jacks prior to his death.
“He said, ‘(“Mallrats”) is going to make $100 million,’” Smith said of Jacks. “If you know the history of ‘Mallrats,’ it was about $98 million short. You don’t make a sequel to a 20-year-old movie that didn’t make money to begin with. You do it to make it up to your friend, who you let down.”
After the audience applauded his story, Smith added, “Now you tell me Ben Affleck is going to say no to that!”
Turning to his more recent films, Smith said that because he used every piece of his life story in his early films, he had nothing left that was personal to say, so he decided to make weird Canadian horror movies instead. The first of his “True North” trilogy, 2014’s “Tusk,” was about a podcaster who meets an eccentric recluse that transforms him into a human walrus. Smith wrapped the second movie, “Yoga Hosers,” earlier this year, and is almost finished with the screenplay to “Moose Jaws,” which Smith says is exactly like it sounds: “Jaws” with a moose.
One of Smith’s talents as a filmmaker is his ability to write dialogue, and not so much his visual style, which he readily admitted to Sunday. “I can (shoot movies) with my eyes closed,” he said. “Some people have accused me of that very thing.”
Fortunately, his ability to craft words on paper excels on stage, as Smith truly seems in his element regaling his fans with off-color Hollywood tales, such as the differences in working with A-list stars like Bruce Willis and Johnny Depp. It’s no secret that so much of Smith’s cult of popularity comes from seeing him live on stage, or listening to his many podcasts on the SModCo Network. He’s a natural born storyteller who brings the same kind of infectious joy to stringing together sentences of elaborate profanity that the late painter Bob Ross did to his portraits of happy little trees.
Some other entertaining stories from Smith:
• Smith notes that his 15-year-old daughter Harley texts him back immediately, unlike every other adult in his life. “I could text Jason Mewes and I’ll see him before he responds to me,” he said. “A 15-year-old responds before you send the text.”
• His wife Jennifer loves him but doesn’t care for the entertainment persona of Kevin Smith. He tries getting her to watch his AMC show “Comic Book Men,” but she said, “I don’t know, I’m not really in the demographic of this, am I?” He replied, “You’re married to Kevin Smith. If you’re not in the demographic, who is?”
“If I want to see you cry about Batman and wear that shirt, I’ll turn to my left,” Smith’s wife said.