Smith smokes the voice away
On Wednesday night, actor/writer/director Kevin Smith visisted the CFA Mainstage Theater for a discussion on his current recreational habits, his weight and losing his father who passed in 2003. Courtesy of Gage Skidmore
Kevin Smith is probably the only person bold enough to lecture about bowling, death, Star Wars and fleshlights all in the same speech.
Wednesday night, the Center For the Arts' Mainstage Theater embraced one of Hollywood's most productive potheads; he's a 42-year-old self-appointed nerd who wears a custom-made hockey jersey to mask his obesity.
Smith, writer/director/actor of Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, is an ardent storyteller, using his words and animated hand mannerisms to navigate his listeners through his past. He acknowledged his weed-smoking ways on stage, attributing the habit to his results on the screen.
Smith started smoking marijuana during post-production of Zack and Miri Make a Porno and hasn't looked back.
"I'm a functioning stoner, just like Seth Rogen," Smith said. "Weed allows me to look at the images between the thoughts; it creates a space in time. If I'm smoking, I'm doing something. Nobody can give me s**t as long as I produce results."
Smith was electrically funny using weed references and acknowledging Seth Rogen as his role model. But he used these puns to convey his concern for kids who fearfully avoid following their dreams.
"We don't believe in ourselves anymore," Smith said. "There's an inner voice that tells you not to do something because people will think it's stupid or somebody's done it before. I smoke that inner voice away, man."
Throughout the event, audience members asked Smith about his opinions toward filmmaking. Some of the questioners were film majors, like one woman who supplied Smith with a DVD of her independent feature films.
Smith admitted to being afraid of his weight as a kid, using it as an excuse to not socialize with the other kids. But filmmaking helped Smith break through his nonsocial barrier from his younger days, and he urged the crowd to follow in his footsteps.
"My biggest fear isn't even death," Smith said. "It's people finding out that I'm fat - I'm always camouflaging it and keeping it hidden. But time is too f***ing short, and talk is too f***ing cheap. I figured out that if I start to make fun of myself, it's no longer an issue. Film helped me find other people like me; it sent a message to people that I actually related to. Film is the only art form I want to express myself with - just give me $20 million and Ben Affleck."
Smith also claimed with confidence that he cares less about his weight, a topic that made headlines in 2010 during a squabble with Southwest Airlines for being "too fat," though there are moments when he still has trouble.
"I still have residual fear," Smith said. "Even before this show, I had to stare at a mirror and tell myself, 'Kevin, you're fat every night! Now go out there and do a f***ing show!' I have to embrace it head on."
Smith enjoyed satirizing himself; nearly every topic somehow involved his obesity or his uncontested love for food. But near the middle of the session, Smith was asked about his experience coping with the death of his father. He treated the question sincerely and vividly recalled many details about that dreadful night.
He described his old man as the simplest person possible, who only aspired to have a wife and kids. But on his deathbed, Smith's dad brutally kicked and screamed until his demise.
"That's the part that really f***ed with me," Smith said. "That night made me realize that no matter what we do, we're always gonna go out screaming."
He immediately preceded this deep symbolic thought with another casual pun.
"After it happened, I was standing outside the hospital smoking a cigarette," Smith said. "And I realized that I was a half-orphan. I was halfway to Batman."
The questioners quickly changed the subject to a lighter note. Smith is a notorious Star Wars fanatic, and in light of Disney recently purchasing the rights to Lucasfilm, the crowd wanted his reaction.
Smith agrees with the decision andinsists his sole purpose in life is to watch the entire Star Wars saga. He still awaits episodes seven through nine, which were promised to him since boyhood.
The crowd erupted in applause throughout the show and responded well to Smith's idiosyncrasy.
"He seemed like he actually enjoyed being here," said Corey Rosen, a sophomore film and communication major. "I also [attended the lecture with] the Modern Family guys when they came here, and they were all right. But this guy was into it the entire show."
Smith showed substantial interest in guiding the younger generation through the challenging times of college. He attempted to persuade students everyone has a voice, and everyone is a storyteller in their own way.
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