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I’m done apologizing for loving Kevin Smith so much. I used to wonder: is it wrong for me to get so much joy out of listening to a guy talk filth all the time? I mean, when you get down to it, Smith’s whole schtick is sex, weed, and movies, and very little else. If he needs a quick punchline, he’ll throw in something about how fat he is. If he wants to get a bit edgier, he’ll talk about sucking a dick or two. And if he’s really on a roll, he’ll throw out a far-too-intimate story about his sex life, either with his wife or solo.
But the schtick never gets old to me. He’s just a charming, funny, and intelligent guy. Yes, intelligent. Anybody can listen to morons tell dick and fart jokes all day – hell, we do it on a weekly basis – but this guy has a supreme understanding of comedy and how to play to an audience. He’s got a knack for humor and a skill for handling the stage, despite being dressed in a bathrobe and spending a good portion of that stage time on a couch. What he does is take the mundane minutia of his everyday life, and make it funny and relate-able. That’s not as easy as it sounds. Because while he does have a stable of go-to stories, his live performances are almost completely ad-libbed. It’s a Q&A format, meaning that anything could happen, funny or not.
Hilden and I saw Smith in September at the State Theater in downtown Minneapolis, and it was then that I really got an appreciation for his skill. I own all the “Evening with” DVDs, so I’m more than familiar with the format. But what you don’t get out of those DVDs are the in-between bits. Those DVDs are edited so you see the good questions where Kevin really shines. But at the State, live, we got to see how deftly he was able to handle the not-so-good moments. When a girl stood up and babbled relentlessly about her new inlaws, Smith was able to turn what could have been an odd and uncomfortable moment into something hilarious. When another woman asked a bizarre question about sexual deviancy, he didn’t laugh or belittle the question, but turned it around on her to the delight of the audience.
Q&A can be a tricky business, especially when you do it in front of an audience that expects to be entertained. Kevin Smith is a master at it, pulling off a consistently hilarious and charming show. Even if you’re not a big fan of him or his films, I highly recommend fans of comedy in general give one of his shows a try.