Kevin Smith turned 40 and the world didn't end...

Kevin Smith turned 40 and the world didn't end...

Ed. Note: The links below contain some of Mr. Smith's famously salty language. Enjoy!

Having a milestone birthday always brings a time of reflection--you think about what you have accomplished in life, what you wish to conquer next, and the times when you've managed to have a good old-fashioned laugh on the occasions in-between. For Kevin Smith, turning 40 was doing exactly that…in an intimate evening with 1,543 of his closest fans, that is, at the historic Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank. Having recently turned 30, I was eager to hear what one of my all time favorite writers would have to say. I mean, c’mon, you didn’t have to grow up in Jersey to relate to the gritty humor found in Clerks and Mallrats, both staples from my adolescence. Through both his unpretentious, tell-it-like-it-is storytelling and fiercely evident love (and occasional snark) for the Garden State, Kevin Smith has emerged as one of New Jersey's favorite sons in the entertainment world, A Red Bank native (and damn proud of it), Mr. Smith led an epic 5 hour Q & A about his latest film projects, becoming a voice for the slacker generation, and the “incident” with Southwest Airlines.

The theater was (expectedly) packed with fans from all walks of life. Being a bit of a geek myself, I felt like I had stepped into a comic convention and not an evening of theater (and yes, I’ve been to both). One pleasant surprise was seeing Kevin Smith’s mother at the event--and yes, she stuck around, despite her son’s potty-mouth and sense of humor. The f-bomb was dropped at least 30 times before my friend and i could reach our seats (ah, Jersey, how I’ve missed you!) and he had all of us rolling in the aisles with laughter within the first 5 minutes of the show. You gotta love a guy who can relay a metaphor in comic book terminology.

I'll save the exact quotes for you to devour via the soon-on-sale DVD--meanwhile, he gave us “kids” some really great advice that I plan to apply to my thirties.

1) Trust yourself. Go where you want to be and not where everyone else already is. Thinking back on Zack and Miri Make a Porno, he was disappointed to work so hard on a project and not see the anticipated sales at the box office. He realized he was trying to make a more of a Judd Apatow movie instead of relying on his unapologetic wit and taking a risk (the same kind of risk that developed the groundbreaking movie, Clerks). When you ignore or warp your voice to fit an audience, you're always going to lose authenticity. Eventually, it disappears. On the counterpoint, however--Kevin Smith's biggest critical failure is also his biggest commercial success: the recently-released Cop Out. So, there's that to chew on. (ed. note: It's profoundly, almost deliberately, terrible. See it.)

2) Embrace your failures. These are given opportunities to learn and grow. See: Jersey Girl, Zack and Miri, Clerks: The Series...Mr. Smith has no trouble filling this category up. The point is, you can't ignore the times you stumble. Every single event, win or lose, is a lesson. Sometimes, in Smith's case, they come with gratuitous nudity and lost weekends. But still--lessons are lessons.

And 3) If given the choice of travel, a prom party bus beats Southwest airlines any time.


If you're hankering to celebrate Kevin Smith's birthday in style, you've got some options:

  • You can hold out for his upcoming movies--the horror film Red State and the hockey comedy Hit Somebody.

  • If you want an immediate fix, you can visit his comic book store, the Secret Stash, in Red Bank, which is chock-full of Smithy-goodness (ed. note: Smith also writes a couple of best-selling comics, too. Yeah. I'm a dork.)

  • You can check him out live, coming soon to a town or college near you (the schedule's updated all the time).

Happy Birthday, Kevin Smith! Jersey loves you, potty-mouth and all.

Dave Isay, Founder, StoryCorps

Dave Isay, Founder, StoryCorps

Keith Haring at Grounds for Sculpture

Keith Haring at Grounds for Sculpture