On night five of producer/screenwriter/director Kevin Smith’s live “Smodcast” tour, he and fellow Smodcaster Scott Mosier claimed they were ready to “kill each other,” but their stage banter suggested otherwise. The longtime duo that has collaborated on nearly all of Smith’s films were naturals onstage, looking up occasionally to acknowledge the audience but otherwise conversing through an hour with crass humor and snarky commentary on the day’s current events.
Once in front of the Billings audience, Smith took some time to discuss the seemingly bizarre landscape of the West he was able to observe by bus. “Boy, is it flat,” Smith marveled. “At one point I felt like we were lost…There is something kind of beautiful about it.”
Calling the surrounding area an “unspoiled wilderness,” Smith quickly moved into his characteristic deprecating humor and noted there is so much wasted space. “You could build cities!” he said.
The other striking observation Smith had of the West: “Pixar is lying yet again. Look at Montana. WALL-E is never going to happen.”
Moser retorted, “Do you feel better knowing Montana is out here?”
“Billings is the death of all childhood dreams,” Smith noted, and received a large cheer from the crowd.
Known for his sarcastic and brutal humor on screen and on stage, Smith’s stop in Billings was one of only six cities on the “Smodcast Live” tour. “Smodcast,” a podcast he records weekly in his Los Angeles home with producer/longtime collaborator Scott Mosier, features Smith’s musings on culture and daily life, peppered with Mosier’s input.“I don’t know if anyone knows this, but I’ve had some trouble with the airlines lately,” Smith said, referring to an incident on Southwest Airlines where Smith was asked to leave the flight for “safety” reasons, or in his estimation, for being perceived as too fat to fly.
Following the incident, Smith recorded a lengthy Smodcast discussing the event. “I’m fat, but I’m not that fat,” Smith said.
In Billings, the “not that fat” man took the stage quickly in a blue bathrobe he said he purchased that day and sat behind a covered table. An avid Twitter user, Smith kept up with his tweeting while in Billings and made sure to brag about his newly acquired “fat-guy shirts and grunderwear” purchased from Billings Casual Male XL on Billings west end.
With 1,667,260 people following Smith on Twitter, his platform is as large as his grungy undies, and—with his loud voice and sharp tongue—he’s an undeniable influence in today’s new media.
On Smith’s Twitter account following the show, a fan tweeted: “good Billings show, albeit surprisingly short.” Smith’s response: “…SMOD runs anywhere from 1 hour to 75mins. Longer is a funny-killer.”
The $25 ticket price ($30-something with fees) may have seemed steep for only an hour of Smithisms, but the crowd had few pauses between laughs. Smith has evolved comedy from traditional fart jokes into even cruder realms, pushing crude language to “balls-deep” references and cracks about genitalia.
This lowest common denominator humor has an almost universal appeal amongst his core following: 20- and 30-somethigns that appreciated the raw absurdity and despondent nature of the characters in his first movie, “Clerks.” Fans quickly adapted to his larger budget but still edgy flicks “Mallrats” and “Chasing Amy,” and relished the mainstream shock that followed the release of “Dogma,” his controversial film about religion (featuring Alanis Morissette as God).
Smith’s fans plowed through a directorial flop with Ben Affleck, but rejoiced when Smith reprised the roll of “Silent Bob” frcom “Clerks” for the snarky comedy “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.”
Most recently, fans followed Smith back into the seedy romance realm with “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” featuring Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogen.
It was those movies paired with his embrace of new media with excessive Tweeting and gritty (sometimes introspective) podcasts that had Smith’s fans lined up outside the Babcock well before the show began. They circled his tour bus following the “Smodcast” for a chance to ask their favorite director a question, get an autograph, or just be around the man whose livelihood depends not only on the foulness of his mouth, but the directorial vision that landed him as one of the most successful independent directors of all time.