September 21, 2011

Coming Soon: EPIX Presents Kevin Smith Live

"There's something to be said for failing. It's not the failure you feel, it's the failure that people project when something disappoints. You're back to ground zero, where there's no expectations, and that's where I like to be. People like to set the bar high. I like to put the bar on the ground and barely step over it. I like to keep the expectations really low. After something like Mallrats, the expectations are in the toilet. People are like, 'He's over, he's done.' So it's easier to be, like, 'Ta-da, I'm not.' It's a much more comfortable place to work from. When you have an escalating career, and every time you have to outdo yourself, I couldn't handle that kind of pressure. But having to outdo Jersey Girl? Not very difficult."
-Kevin Smith

You know Kevin Smith, right? I mean, not personally, but you know of him, correct? He's best known primarily as an independent filmmaker, but as far as "fanboy culture" is concerned, he's much more. In fact, Kevin's kind of a big deal.

In addition to being a screenwriter/director, Smith has stamped himself on American geek culture as an author, a comic book writer, podcaster, internet radio personality. In fact, now that I can't think about it, there's no other personality that I think has better taken advantage of the internet to establish themselves as a relevant cultural icon. Take that, Matt Drudge.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise to someone who makes a living as a storyteller, but Kevin has also established himself as one heck of a raconteur. He tours markets (predominantly college towns) across the U.S. and charms the crowds with his anecdotes about filmmaking, as well as humorous stories about his life. Over the years, these long and funny Q&As have been assembled into a few video chronicles: An Evening with Kevin Smith, An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder, Sold Out - A Threevening with Kevin Smith, and Too Fat for 40.

And now, Smith is assembling footage for his next Q&A chronicle. Six months ago, he was in town for a special screening of his newest film Red State and proclaimed Austin as one of his beloved cities, and also The Paramount as one of his all-time favorite venues. Well folks, looks like that wasn't just lip service. because Kevin's coming back to film new segments for his upcoming special. And you know what that means. Embarrassing and self-effacing tales will be shared by the man of the hour, and (if you have an intelligent question) there's a chance of being chronicled yourself.

Am I excited? You betcha. But years ago, my answer may have been different.

I gotta be completely honest, my affinity for Kevin Smith used to be a bit of roller coster ride. With his initial snarky splash with Clerks in 1994, Kevin spoke a truth that had rarely been seen before (and was confirmed as true during a period of my life when I worked in retail). After his debut film, he began a career I referred to as a director of "puerile cinema." All were silly and slightly goofy to varying degrees, but no one could ever question that these movies came straight from his heart. Heck, up until Dogma I would drive out of town with the expressed purpose of seeing his movies. Alas, I found the humor began to wear thin after a while. To this day, I have yet to see Jersey Girl.

But then, Kevin started to win me back. His Q&As always had me in stitches, and I rediscovered after Clerks II that I still had an interest in what the man had to say.

And then, I saw Red State on the big screen... and everything changed. It was hard to believe that this comedic filmmaker had churned out cinema like someone microwaving Hot Pockets could cook something truly deep dish, as if from the oven of Tarantino or the Coen Brothers. I mean- just... wow. Now, it's safe to say my enthusiasm for Smith is back in "bezerker" territory. It's a shame that he only plans one more film before he retires from directing features.

Whether you think Smith has risen the bar once again now that he's in the twilight of his film career is a matter of opinion. Of course he will always have his haters, loudmouth detractors that call him a hack. And on the opposite end are those who have been unabashed die-hard fans, always eager to drink the next drop of elixir from the ViewAskewniverse. For those of us in the middle who favor the man and what he does, he's just a regular guy (albeit a very funny one) who simply does what he enjoys. You can't fault the man for that, and you can't undo or unmake what he has forged from his heart.

So are you ready for more from Red Bank, New Jersey's finest? The Q&As are always a real treat, and this time the hockey jersey-clad big man is coming back to Austin. And in true Kevin fashion... he's leaving his give-a-damn at the door. And personally, I wouldn't have it any other way because when it comes to entertainment value, this man simply can not fail.

Kevin Smith will be appearing live at The Paramount Theatre on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m.