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November 04, 2017

For Kevin Smith, 'Slackers' was inspiration

The celebrated writer-director will hold court at Punch Line Philly Saturday

Kevin Smith loves to talk. 

Interviews typically last longer than an hour. Smith once spoke for more than seven hours during an appearance in his native Red Bank, N.J. a dozen years ago. Prepare for an epic show when Smith hits the stage Saturday at Punch Line Philly. The celebrated filmmaker will talk about anything that crosses his fast-moving mind.

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“I like to get up there onstage and just go,” Smith said.

Smith, 47, has plenty to chat about. He has simultaneously connected with the mainstream with films such as “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma.” And then he has his independent audience with such classics as “Clerks” and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.”

“I love what I do,” Smith said. “There’s nothing like making movies.”

Smith says he was always a film fan. While coming of age in Central New Jersey during the ‘80s, he caught as many movies as he could on cable.

“I bowed to the great god of television,” Smith said.

But he didn’t envision that he could one day become a movie maker back then.

But that changed after a trip to the cinema during the early ‘90s. “When I saw 'Slackers' [in 1991], I thought, ‘If this is a movie, I can make movies’. It really inspired me. I had never seen a movie like that before.”

Smith gave it a shot with “Clerks.” He maxed out a number of credit cards and sold his comic book collection to finance the film, which was made for $27,000. “Clerks,” which grossed more than $3 million, won the Filmmaker’s Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994.

Such icons as Johnny Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris Rock, Jennifer Lopez and Matt Damon have appeared in Smith’s films. Smith wrote in the voice of the late, legendary comic George Carlin in a number of his movies. Carlin, who was an outsider in Hollywood, raved about working with Smith.

When I saw 'Slackers' [in 1991], I thought, ‘If this is a movie, I can make movies’. It really inspired me."

“It doesn’t get any bigger than getting approval from George Carlin,” Smith said. 

“Carlin was always one of my greatest heroes. To be able to work with him was amazing. He was someone that never let anything affect him. He just did what he wanted to do.”

The same can be said for Smith, who makes films that interest him. It’s not about pandering to the public for what might generate the biggest box office. He has written and directed films that are quirky. Smith has horror films to his credit.

“I grew up watching so many different types of film,” Smith said. “It had an impact on me. I don’t want to just make one kind of movie.”

Smith also acts and then there is his spoken word, which, like his films, are unpredictable.

”I just try to have fun up there,” he said. “I have a great time every time I do it.”

Kevin Smith appears Saturday, Nov. 4 at Punch Line Philly, 33 E Laurel St. Tickets are $37.50. Show times are 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.