“Sorry for the delay,” said Kevin Smith last week in McHenry, taking the stage at the McHenry Outdoor Theater alongside cohort Jason Mewes for a live recording of the podcast Jay & Silent Bob Get Old. “We were looking for Shermer, IL and couldn’t find it as usual,” he joked, referencing the fictional locale of seminal John Hughes movies like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
For just over ten years, Smith and Mewes have undertaken the podcast, riffing on the characters made famous by Smith-directed films like Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back since 1994.
The New Jersey born Smith spoke of his fondness for the Windy City as horns honked across the vast outdoor expanse of the drive-in theater, welcoming the duo to McHenry. The director told the tale of a seminal 1979 train ride featuring Chicago as a stop, a fond memory as he made his way back to the Chicagoland area for the live podcast appearance and more.
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As they do in his films, as well as in the recorded Q&A series An Evening With Kevin Smith, tall tales, hilarious anecdotes and friendly ribbing loomed large during the podcast recording, which kicked off in McHenry with a typically explicit story of a sexual encounter gone awry by Jay. “Give us a sex story, Mr. Jason Mewes!” said Smith, setting the stage.
But it wasn’t just their patented brand of “dick and fart” jokes which populated the podcast taping.
Jay and Silent Bob have indeed gotten old. They’re each married now with daughters and it’s those coming of age of tales and moments of maturity which speak to just how far the duo have come in the last 25 plus years.
“To me, 50… it doesn’t seem possible,” said Mewes, 46, on stage, looking back at his history of drug abuse. “It still doesn’t,” he continued, as fans stayed mostly in their vehicles for the duration of the 75 minute set, the Sunday night temperature dropping as low as 32 degrees.
“It’s fucking cold ladies and gentlemen!” asserted Smith early in the recording, clad in Silent Bob’s long trench coat and a pair of gloves. “It’s incredibly weird being here now. The streets are empty,” said the director in reference to Chicago amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. “Seeing everything boarded up…” Mewes mused, referencing the appearance of downtown Chicago following demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in May.
In addition to the podcast, Smith and Mewes were in Chicago all week, on hand for a ribbon cutting at Mooby’s, a pop-up restaurant and merch location in the Fulton Market neighborhood based upon the fast food setting of the 2006 film Clerks II.
In McHenry, Smith spoke about the possibility of films like Clerks III and Mallrats II, expounding in great length upon the latter, treating fans to a show closing reading of a scene from the Mallrats II script for the first time.
“Twilight of the Mallrats will be made in 2021!” declared Smith of the sequel to his 1995 film. “I hope you feel the same way when it’s done,” he joked, noting the enthusiastic reaction of fans in attendance at the drive-in theater who honked car horns and flashed headlights in appreciation. “Twilight is a beat for beat sequel. It’s the movie it was meant to be. All the characters come back,” he said of the original Mallrats cast, which featured everyone from Ben Affleck to Shannen Doherty, as Mewes, suffering in the cold without gloves, struggled to open a package of hand warmers.
Jay & Silent Bob Get Old began over ten years ago as a way to help Mewes maintain his sobriety and continues today, inspiring hope with each new episode.
“If you own it and talk about the drugs in front of people, then you’re free. You’ll have sponsors all over the world looking out for you,” said Smith of the podcast’s early goals. “I’m so glad you’re around. Some people don’t make it. Suddenly when you became a dad, it became clear that’s what you were put on this earth to do. As much as the show started about sobriety, Logan took over the role. And you seemingly have taken on the role,” said Smith to his friend and colleague, referencing Mewes’ daughter. “After a decade, it’s like, ‘Oh my god,’” said Mewes, now 10 years and 5 months sober. “Between the podcast, Twitch, my wife and kid and Kev, I feel really good about where I’m at.”
The thought of revisiting characters like Jay and Silent Bob more than 25 years later, following the breakout success of Clerks in 1994, one of the most important moments in the history of independent film, seemed almost unthinkable to Smith at times on stage in McHenry as he and Mewes cracked wise, finishing each other’s sentences frequently during the podcast taping.
“Thanks for giving a shit about our nonsense for over a quarter century,” said the director with pride, closing out the frigid Sunday night performance.