This interview is also published in the March 2012 issue of Axis Magazine.
Later this year, the beloved cult classic Clerks will turn 18-years old, and while it will be old enough to vote and fight for our country, it still won’t be able to buy beer. Luckily, the film introduced us to two characters who redefined loitering and convenience store hijinks – Jay and Silent Bob. Played by Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, the pot-smoking duo has earned a glorious status as a generation’s greatest slackers, but their best days are behind them, as they took a bow, fittingly, in 2006’s Clerks 2.
That doesn’t mean that the legend is dead, though. Mewes and Smith have been traveling the world for their new live show, “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old,” and they’ve given their devoted fanboys an opportunity to relive their glory days with never-before-told stories from their past films like Mallrats, Dogma, Chasing Amy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. And they’re still coming back for more… kind of. Jay and Silent Bob will once again swing their socks full of quarters in the upcoming animated feature, Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie, for which Mewes will earn his first producer’s credit.
Mewes also has plenty of other projects in the pipeline, from indie film starring roles to his first directing gig, too. Busy or not, he was kind enough to spend a minute or 30 with me on the phone after he returned home from a brief European tour, filling me in on Jay growing old and, of course, the Tao of “Snoochie boochies.” (Warning: There be some curse words beyond these parts…)
Burnsy: What has it been like to be traveling throughout Europe for “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old” and speaking in front of and to these fiercely loyal fans?
Jason Mewes: It was really awesome, it’s definitely just like it is here. There’s always that city that’s a little bit rowdier and a little bit louder, and all five of our shows sold out over there so that was really cool. The shows in London and Manchester sold out in like 7 or 8 days and Ireland sold out in something like three weeks to a month.
Burnsy: Clerks turns 18 this year. I was 15 when that film came out and I still say, “Let’s get the fuck out of this jip joint” when I’m in a 7-11. What is it like to know that the film, and more importantly your character, is so fondly embraced by us pop culture junkies?
JM: It’s pretty amazing, because it definitely wasn’t expected. We shot Clerks and I was roofing at the time, and I would go after work to shoot at night. I went back to work after we shot it and it wasn’t until we went to Minnesota to film Mallrats that I decided to quit my job. We were in the middle of shooting Mallrats and it was very surreal that people would like this character as much as they do. By then I thought, “Wow, this is something I can actually do” and not have to do roofing anymore. But I did go back and work a little bit at my friend’s pizza shop, where I delivered pizzas. I had no idea, though, and it’s very surreal and flattering that people have liked these movies so much.
Burnsy: What’s the most common line from Jay’s canon that fans still scream at you when they see you on the street or awkwardly say to you when they’re asking for an autograph?
JM: Probably “Snooch to the nooch” or “Snoochie boochies” and then there’s a good amount of people who will say, “Boo boo kitty fuck.” A lot of times people really want me to sing the Fuck Song. At the end of the shows, we play a game with the audience called “Let Us Fuck” and we bring people up on stage and we make up sex positions and reenact them on the stage. One girl came up and asked if I could do the “Goodbye Horses” dance, so I get that one a lot, too.
Burnsy: How much of what you have said as Jay has been written beforehand and how much of it was you just winging it?
JM: For the first movie, I was so nervous so they were definitely all written. There was maybe a little bit of ad-libbing on Clerks, and with Mallrats there was a little more, but Kevin always definitely likes to stick to the script. There are some words here and there that I’ll add in. It’s scripted, but it’s stuff that I’ve actually said before, so it’s ad-libbed in the sense that I’d say something and we’d write it down to save it for later.
We started hanging out when he was 18 and I was 14, so he wrote the script four years later, and there’s 3 years of stuff that I had actually done or said. So when he explains his perspective, we started hanging out because he thought I was funny, as did his friends, and so they always wondered if anyone else would find my sense of humor funny.
After a while, though, he let me get into a lot more ad-libbing because we were comfortable with it and it was just funny. I’d say I stick to the script about 80 percent of the time.
Burnsy: On a recent edition of the “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old” podcast, you and Kevin Smith watched Mallrats and reflected. How often do you watch your old films – if at all – and do you have any moments like, “Oh man, what the fuck was I doing?” or “Damn, that was a good one”?
JM: I feel really weird when I watch myself, so I try not to do it. There’s a movie I just did called K-11 and Jules Stewart directed it – she’s Kristen Stewart’s mom. I got to play this character named Ben and it’s about this section of the Los Angeles jail, sort of like a place for people that can’t make it in general population. There are users in there and transgenders, and Ben is selling drugs in prison and dating one of the transgenders. It’s just a really dark drama, and my point is that they just did one cut and then another cut, and they keep inviting me to watch it, but I don’t. A big part of me just thinks it’s so weird to watch myself.
But if I do watch a movie that I did and see something that I don’t like, I’m always like, “Man, that was really bad” or “I should have done that, it would have been a lot funnier.” I definitely criticize myself a lot.
Burnsy: What are some of the other new projects that you’ve been working on? Do you ever worry that people are going to watch them and be like, “Well that was fun and at all, but… snoogins?”
JM: The things that I’ve shot that are hopefully going to come out is that movie K-11 and there’s a movie that I did called noobz that I think is going to be very good. It’s about four guys who go to play in this big Gears of War tournament, and it’s pretty spot on. When you’re playing video games and you’re in the headset and always talking to people, and these guys have been playing together but have never met each other. So they’re finally meeting and taking a road trip to this big tournament where the first prize is half a million dollars. It’s the old story of “We hate our jobs, we hate what we do, this could change our lives.” There’s also a love story in there. I’ve been talking to the director and he said he’s screened it three times for different studios and all of them said very good things and they seem to be really into it.
But the big think I’m working on is a script for a Jay and Silent Bob animated film that Kevin gave me the script for and told me to go produce it. We just talked about it for the first time in Ireland, and I told Kevin that I want to be doing something when I’m not shooting something or sitting around doing a podcast. I said I want to be more productive and produce or direct. And he said, “Look, I wrote this script three years ago, you can take it and produce it with your wife.” So me and her got money together and we got the first 15 to 20 minutes done, and we showed it to Kevin and he was laughing and said, “Dude, this is amazing.” Now he’s really excited and we’re gonna do this together and go touring with it.
And another guy has a little bit of money and he’s doing a little independent movie, so he gave me a script and he wants me to direct it, which is really cool. I’ve never directed a full feature and hopefully something good will come out of that.
Burnsy: You obviously have a long, well-documented history with Kevin, both creatively and personally, so does that affect your approach to new projects? Like when you’re working with a director who says, “You need to do it like this…” are you ever thinking, “Yeah, but we always do it like this”?
JM: It has never really been a problem. It’s interesting to work with all of the different directors, because there have been some that are great, but there have been some… I won’t say they’re bad, but they don’t communicate well or they’re too stressed out over money. I’ve been on independent movies where the guys with the money are on set yelling at the directors because the scene didn’t go the way someone wanted, or the producers are bringing all these hot girls in who want to get their SAG cards, so they’re like, “Throw these girls on the couch and we’ll pretend they’re just there hanging out”, while the scene is just about two guys. It’s been weird.
I’d say all the directors I’ve worked with – some are better than others, of course – have always been into the projects and want to make good movies. But if I could have it my way, I’d always want to work with Kevin and the people who work with us.
Burnsy: Since you and Kevin are touring and bringing us back to these characters that we’ve loved over two decades, do you worry that we’re all going to be like, “Enough’s enough – we want another Jay and Silent Bob film”? And are there moments that you and Kevin say that it’s going to happen again?
JM: At this point, Kevin seems open to it, but I think the reason Kevin hasn’t done another movie is because he doesn’t want it to get old. There are obviously the people and the fans who want to see another movie, but we get these other people – like with the “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old” podcast – who are like, “Dude, it’s been 20 years, how long are you going to keep using these characters?” I just think Kevin doesn’t want to overkill it for the fans who have been listening and watching.
That’s why we’re doing an animated movie, because it’s not necessarily us and it’s something different. We’re also talking about doing some shorts and throwing on some makeup and having Jay and Silent Bob get really old (ed. – Canadian prescription drug mules, please.) and we’re coming up with some ideas. But right now it’s just the animated film, the podcast and Hit Somebody, which comes out later this year.
Maybe after that he’ll say, “Maybe we should do another one” but you never know.