For Kevin Smith, his upcoming EPIX performance special, Kevin Smith: Too Fat for 40, is both a happy accident and a culmination of many of his recent, high profile battles with cyber antagonists and Southwest Airlines (he was kicked off a flight for being too large; see video below).
Throughout a recent discussion with bloggers at his Los Angeles podcasting theater, the SModcastle, Smith, with his trademark honesty and profanity, painted the special as the latest in “a series of wish fulfillments” that have made up his career. “I thought, ‘I wonder what it would be like to be George Carlin,’ so I get up onstage and tell jokes and feel what it’s like to be George Carlin. ‘I wonder what it would be like to be Howard Stern,’ so I get in front of a mic and talk for a while. ‘I wonder what it would feel like to be Richard Linklater,’ and I made Clerks. So, you get moments like that throughout a career, and EPIX takes me right back to my childhood by giving me a fucking stand-up special the way that I was first introduced, visually, to George Carlin and watching him on HBO on Carlin at Carnegie and shit.”
The show was filmed at the Count Basie Theater in Smith’s hometown of Red Bank, NJ, which is to the world of his stories what small town New England is to Stephen King’s. Despite the format, the stage, and the joke-filled stories, Smith is quick to point out that he’s not a comedian.
“Comedians are people that work at their craft, and, basically, just get up there and generate without the help of the audience,” he says. “My shtick is that I just get up there and tell stories. Without the audience, I’d have nothing. I never really considered it stand-up comedy and when I watch comedians do it, I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s impressive. That’s amazing.’”
Too Fat For 40 is a continuation of Smith’s popular An Evening With… series of concerts and DVDs, in which the filmmaker engages in an extended (and sometimes, very extended) question and answer session with his fans, during which no subject, no matter how personal, is ever out of bounds. The events frequently play to packed houses and go on for hours, until the audience is literally out of questions. It has spawned three DVDs.
In Too Fat For 40, however, Smith spins two hours of stories, digressions, confessions, and asides from a single question. “It’s about keeping it interesting for yourself,” he says, about the new conceit. It also represents an attempt at overcoming some of the often rabidly personal criticism that has been pointed at Smith as of late.
“I enjoyed doing these things, these An Evening With… things, and we’d done three of them, but someone online was just like, ‘He’s so arrogant. He has three DVDs of himself talking.’ And, I was literally like, ‘Fuck you, I’m not going to do it anymore then.’ Then, five years later, I thought, “Why am I revenging someone who doesn’t care? I’m kind of talking myself out of doing something cool.”
And, then, EPIX called, and I said, ‘I have a bunch of stories that I would love to put on wax,’ because everything I hadn’t put down or recorded since the last one had built up. So, I knew I had two or three hours.”
Kevin Smith: Too Fat for 40 premieres on EPIX on Saturday, Oct. 23 at 9:30 pm EST. On 3 pm on the day of the premiere, Smith will participate in an online Q&A that will be streamed live at epixHD.com, in which the filmmaker will answer fan questions.