Kevin Smith has been performing a sort of unplugged stand-up act since his movie Clerks came out in 1994. He started by traveling to college campuses to talk about the movie. That evolved into a verbal burlesque where he'd stand onstage answering anything and everything, even if it took eight hours. "The caliber of questions starts sucking at hour six," Smith says, "when people are going, boxers or briefs? Batman or Superman? It sounds kind of staid and dry, but it doesn't feel like a normal Q&A." At a Vancouver event recently, a guy got up with a bucket list of 100 things he had to do before he died, including getting naked in front of a large audience. "I was like, 'Get the f--k up here now'," Smith says. "The audience went crazy." The act has taken him as far as London's Piccadilly Circus and sold-out Canadian opera houses. And on June 17 he's playing Carnegie Hall. That's right, Carnegie Hall—and you're not the only one who's shocked. "I don't even know how it happened," says Smith, whose show is called Silent Bob Speaks: An Evening With Kevin Smith. "These two cats asked, 'Do you want to do a show at Carnegie Hall?' I said, 'Whose c--k do I have to suck?' Look, I can't be like it's a dream come true, because I didn't f--king dream about no Carnegie Hall."
Smith is doing double duty in New York: preparing for his Carnegie debut and for a new movie, a buddy/cop comedy called A Couple of Dicks. It's Smith's first film that he didn't write himself. Dicks also stars the biggest box-office draw he's ever worked with: Bruce Willis. "I f--king love Bruce Willis," Smith says. "Bruce is one of the only dudes on the planet I would f--k." And yet, Smith doesn't jones for directing like he used to. In fact, he says he'd quit—"it's so overrated"—if he didn't need the movies to give him material for the Q&As. "The problem with this job—it's not a problem, it's a blessing—it extends your adolescence," he says. "You just get to be a kid for so long, because all you're expected to do is pretend for a living. I don't even write my own checks anymore. Somebody has been doing that for 10 years." Then Smith does something really unfunny. Suddenly, quietly, he starts to cry. "Nobody likes to leave a childhood behind, dude," he says, wiping away the tears on the sleeve of his Silent Bob–like trench coat. "I know that's weird to say at age 38. But this is all I've been doing my whole life. It's so strange to hit a wall now, where I can't do that s--t I used to anymore. It's like having a kid that dies and being fine a week later. The tank is empty."
Smith realized he needed to grow up after Zack and Miri Make a Pornounderperformed last year. "I was like, 'I can't show my face on the Internet ever again'," Smith says. "I'm done." He got by with a little help from his friend Seth Rogen. "Seth is a pretty big stoner," Smith says. "Suddenly I had a vice. It takes me places, magical journeys. I swear I've never done more writing than when I've been smoking weed for the last six months."
If you're surprised that anyone would be so open about his life, you've never met Kevin Smith. Frankly, that's your own fault. He thinks nothing of inviting his fans over to his house for poker games. He's attended a few of their weddings, too. "I met so many kids named Dante or Randal [after Clerks]," Smith says, "because people connect to those movies." Smith now has almost 700,000 followers on Twitter, making him one of the top 100 Tweeters in the world. "I tweet about hockey a lot," he says, as well as how he's like a teenager when he sees his wife naked. In a recent post, he admits he hasn't slept in 42 hours (with a masturbation joke thrown in). He even offers a regular countdown to Carnegie Hall. Smith says he isn't going to clean up his act to fit its hallowed setting. But he does worry about one thing. "A venue like Carnegie Hall has subscribers," he says. "And I get up there and start talking about my wife's ass. Hopefully people will know what they're in for." Any more questions? You'll have to ask Kevin Smith yourself.