ALISON STEWART, host:
Writer/director Kevin Smith, he had a pretty good year. He started filming a new movie. He was tapped to write a "Heroes" prequel. His podcast called SModcast was named by iTunes as one of the top five of the year. And the man managed to turn a collection of mundane and sometimes profane diary entries into a New York Times best-seller. We spoke to Kevin Smith about his oddly entertaining book, though aptly titled: "My Boring Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith."
You know, I went to your MySpace page, and you have this post that's really, really sweet, is the word I'm going use. It says, apparently, I'm a New York Times best-selling author. This is a really big deal for me. So first of all, congrats. And are you serious? Is this a really big deal for you, considering all you've done?
Mr. KEVIN SMITH (Director, Writer; Author, "My Boring Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith"): Yeah. Because I just didn't expect the books to wind up there. I mean, I'd done - I mean, I've never written a book, right? Like, basically, I've got two books, and they're both examples of found material, compiled material. Like the old one, "Silent Bob Speaks," was a compilation of a bunch of magazine articles I'd written, essays that I've written and some Web journalism that I'd done. And then this one, the one that's out now, "My Boring Ass Life," was a compilation of like almost two years worth of blog postings that I'd done. So, you know, those are barely books. You know what I'm saying? That doesn't really count.
(Soundbite of laughter)
STEWART: Barely a book? Buddy, this thing is over 400 pages. What are you trying to tell me, barely a book?
Mr. SMITH: Yeah. It looks like a book. That's for sure. And it feels like one. And, you know, it'll definitely hold up the end of the table like a book well. But it doesn't - you know, I don't know. Calling it a book takes away from people like Frazen and Michael Chabon or J.D. Salinger - dudes who actually write books.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SMITH: Like this is - this was me writing a blog for a while and then Titan, the company that company that published it, called me up and said, we'd like to turn it to a book. And I said, do I have to do anything? They said, no. You've already done it. And I said, go with God.
STEWART: That works for me.
Mr. SMITH: That's it for me as an author. But the fact that it wound up on the list - and granted, it's the story of my life, right? Like, it would be one thing if I wound up like in the top 10. I'm at number 32 on that list. But that's just enough for me to be proud of.
STEWART: Yeah. There is some guy at 33 and 34. So 32's okay.
Mr. SMITH: That's true. And those people are like, he didn't even write a book. This doesn't count.
STEWART: Just to give people a vibe of what the book's like, on page 247, it says…
(Reading) "Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 3:03 pm. I wake up, hit the bathroom with my Tetris and then head to the bedroom office, doing three hours of phoners for "Mall Rats 10." Afterwards, I pick up Harley from camp with Hans in tow. We head to the Coffee Bean on Beverly, followed back trip to Laser Blazer, where I spend - somehow spend 850 on two weeks worth of DVDs. I come home and chill with Jen for a while, then checked e-mail watching the "New Jack City" DVD. After Jen puts Harley to bed, we watched "Witness" and play Rummy. After "Witness," we pop in "The Truman Show," and I fall asleep 10 minutes before it ends.
Mr. SMITH: You know, you're just prevented me from selling another copy of that book.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SMITH: People are like, that sounds like crap. It's boring.
STEWART: Well, you do put boring in the title, so it's not false advertising. I should say that.
Mr. SMITH: Yeah. I didn't really believe it at all, man. I'm kind of upfront and forthright with what the book's about. There's a lot of that. Like when I started writing the blog, it was kind of a daily dairy of sorts, because somebody online or one of our Web sites - at the message board at ViewAskew.com had asked what I did all day. And I thought that was kind of an interesting question. So I was like, you know, I'm going to write down everything what I've done today.
And I posted it, and the cats at the Web site really seemed to dig it. So I started keeping it up, you know, as a regular thing, as a regular feature. And then I moved it over to its own, you know, standalone blog site. And I was kind of into the notion at first, because I was like, I think I would enjoy reading this 10 or 20 years down the line. Or being able to hand it over my kid and being like, this is what I did when he were like 6 or 7 or 8 years old. Look at how I wasted my youth. But…
STEWART: Wait. Let's just talk about that. When you hand this over to your kid, Harley. So 20 years from now, she'll be 28, 29. Is that a good age that she should read about this? Because let's just say you and your wife love each other.
Mr. SMITH: Yeah.
STEWART: And we all know that from reading this book, that you love each other often.
Mr. SMITH: Yeah. Pretty frequently.
STEWART: And a lot.
Mr. SMITH: Which, I mean, God bless her, because who would really want to love me on a regular basis? That regularly, you know, that physically with clothes off. But yeah, I'm happy to have her read it whenever. I don't know. If I was like 13, 14 and my father had done something like this, I would have loved to read it. I would have loved to have known, you know, what my father thought about it and how frequently he coupled with my mother and stuff like that. I mean, I'm sure she won't appreciate it as much as she will, you know, when she's, you know, in her 20s and I'm dead. But I wouldn't be against her - it'd be kind of hypocritical for me to be like, don't read this until you're 30.
STEWART: Nothing sacred in what you write. I mean, it's really interesting. You talk about, yeah, personal issues. You talk about something really kind of tough, too - the struggle of your friend's heroin addiction.
Mr. SMITH: Yeah. That's my favorite part. That's the only part of the whole book that I feel is kind of book-like or book-worthy, is I did a nine-part series entitled "Me and My Shadow," which was about Jayson Mewes, the guy who plays Jay to my Silent Bob, and his kind of the throws of drug addiction that he went through for the - over a course of seven years. And it's kind of - it's some of the best writing I've ever done, but it's also like a really gripping story, and it has a happy ending. But it's warts and all, you know? And it's kind of the story he would have written if he could write. But he can't, I can, so he was happy to see me do it.
STEWART: So we - as I'm dissecting the title of your book, we've been through the candid part. That's about Jayson. We've gone through the boring-ass part, as I read on page 247. Let's talk about the uncomfortably candid. For whom?
Mr. SMITH: I guess it's for the reader. Like, originally, Titan wanted to call it the Unedited or, yeah, "Unedited Diary of Kevin Smith." But they actually had to edit it because they're a British company, right? And I guess you can't publish names. Their libel lawsuits are a lot tougher over there than here. So they didn't want to put some of the names, like the story that kind of kicks off the "Me and My Shadow" blog series was a story that Mewes had told me about having sex in the bathroom (bleep). And you could kind of say that…
STEWART: Well, hey there.
Mr. SMITH: Exactly. You can kind of say it over here. But over there, unless you could prove it, I guess it's a lot more difficult. So I said, please, don't call it unedited because you can't put her name - you're not putting her name in the book. Just - let's find something else. And we both kind of settled on uncomfortably candid, because it is the kind of - some of the entries you read, and it's just like, dude, that was way too much information than I wanted to know.
STEWART: Something else that I'm interested in is after you read this book, all these blog entries - all at once - did you change anything about your life?
Mr. SMITH: I did. And, in fact, when they sent me the galleys of the book, I didn't even bother reading it because it was too fresh, like, you know, it was only, I think it runs from 2005 to 2006. They didn't print any of the 2007 stuff, if I remember correctly. But I just felt like I just lived this stuff fairly recently, so I don't want to re-read it again. You know, I just had them spell check it and make sure - I'm pretty much a spelling Nazi and a grammar Nazi, but I just had them double check that stuff to make sure that it was accurate. But I didn't bother reading the whole thing again. I'm not looking forward to reading this book for another 10 years, because then I think I'll really enjoy it.
STEWART: We're listening back to a conversation I had on October with writer and director Kevin Smith, best known for "Clerks," "Mallrats," "Dogma." And when we spoke, he was working on a project for television, for the CW Network.
You directed this pilot for the show "Reaper," where this kid's parents sell his soul to the devil.
(Soundbite of TV show, "Reaper")
Mr. BRET HARRISON (Actor): (As Sam) Do I have to go to hell now?
Mr. RAY WISE (Actor): (As Devil) No, no, no. Not now. You're just going to bring escaped souls back to hell. That's cool, right?
STEWART: It's a great premise.
Mr. SMITH: Yeah, it's a very cool premise.
STEWART: How did you approach this differently from your film work, or just -do the same principles of story telling apply?
Mr. SMITH: You know, interestingly enough - I mean, the same principles of story-telling apply, but for some reason, since I didn't originate the material - you know, since it wasn't mine, like I was directing somebody else's script for the first time, I put way more care into visual look of the pilot than I have into the visual look of any of the movies I've ever done. It was as if like I had to kind of justify why I was there in the first place.
Because on my movies, I can justify being the director because, like, I wrote it. But on the pilot, like, I couldn't justify why they would hire me. You know, and they paid me well, and I was just like, man, I should really try. So it's odd.
Like halfway through it, I was working with my DP, this guy Dave Klein who I've shot four of my movies with before, and I was like, is it me, or does this look better than anything we've ever shot before? He's, like, yeah. It feels like we're trying a lot harder on this. Which was weird, because it was a show for CW. But…
STEWART: The CW, excuse me.
Mr. SMITH: What's that?
STEWART: Come on. Isn't it The CW?
Mr. SMITH: Yeah, I'm sorry I left the article out. It's The CW. But it turned out pretty well.
STEWART: Another posting I found called you the Geek Revolution in the Flesh. It was excitingly announcing that you're going to write and direct an episode of "Heroes: Origins," the spinoff series.
Mr. SMITH: Yes.
STEWART: First of all, how do you feel about that description?
Mr. SMITH: You know, I'll take it. I'll take any description, as long as they're not like a hack and sellout. I get that a lot on the Web, too. People are like, he's a hack. And, you know, it - I've stopped trying to correct that. You know, because I used to spend a lot of time going out there, and if somebody called me a hack, I'd be like, look. Technically, in terms of film directing, I'm not a hack. A hack is somebody who just takes money just to simply do a job, like, if I did "Mighty Ducks 9," then I'm a hack.
But considering that I write and direct my own stuff, I'm obviously not in it just for the money, although I do like getting paid. But, like, I'm kind of committed to the material more than most. Technically, I'm on auteur, but please don't even call me that. And then after a while, I got tired of kind of defending that. So if they call me the Geek Revolution in the Flesh, it's a lot better than, you know, that hack fat-ass "Clerks" guy.
STEWART: All right. You've got the movie thing going. You've got the TV thing going. You fill in on the "Ebert and Roeper on the Movies." You're on "The Tonight Show" on the couch. Is there anything you'd like to do that somebody just hasn't asked you to do yet?
Mr. SMITH: A voice on "The Simpsons." I would really love to do a voice on "The Simpsons." That - but I'm afraid to do it, because I think then I will die.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SMITH: Because, you know…
STEWART: Because you're happy. You'll be happy and you'll die.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SMITH: Yeah, it's like, what's left after that? There's really - I mean, honestly, I've had a really charmed and wonderful life. And as much as, you know, I've done far more than I ever thought was possible for anybody, let alone for me. So every day, something happens where you're like, I can't believe it. I've still maintained that - did you ever see that movie "Angel Heart"…
Mr. SMITH: …a long time ago, Mickey Rourke?
STEWART: Oh, it's scary.
Mr. SMITH: A scary movie because, you know, aside from, like, Robert De Niro being super creepy as Lucifer, what's really terrifying is the premise of selling one's soul and not knowing about it until it's too late, because part of the bargain is that you don't remember selling your soul. And, you know, raised Catholic, that always terrified me. And every once in a while, you know, at least for the last 14 years or however long I've been doing the film thing, I get that sick notion that's like maybe I sold my soul to the devil, and part of the deal was I not remember, because it's just so weird all the good things that kind of have happened to me. Even the bad things, like even something like "Jersey Girl" comes along and doesn't do very well and stuff like that, but…
STEWART: I didn't bring it up.
Mr. SMITH: Yeah, well, you know, I have to. But even that, it's like - how many people are going to say they ever made of film that flopped? You know, it's like - it's a weird life, and I just get worried that, you know, all the good things have happened because there's a dude waiting on the other end to collect my soul in the bargain.
STEWART: That was Kevin Smith.
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