Interview: Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob Get Old)

Interview: Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob Get Old). By Simon Miraudo.

Kevin Smith‘s seminal cult comedy Clerks is nearing its twentieth anniversary, but the legacy of its breakout characters Jay and Silent Bob refuses to die. Smith has proven himself to be far from ‘Silent’ over the course of his career, now totally focused on his series of radio shows and podcasts under the SModcast banner. He also tours the world with his buddies and entertains audiences with anecdotes from their youth, insights into the world of Hollywood, as well as filthy flights of fancy involving sharks, Nazis, and unprintable sexual scenarios. One of SModCo’s most popular productions is Jay and Silent Bob Get Old, in which Jay himself, Jason Mewes, speaks candidly about his history of substance abuse. I chatted with Mewes ahead of the DVD release of their UK tour about rowdy audiences, “sucking up dirty toilet water to shoot dope,” and his desire to write a TV show with Smith.

SM: You were just in Australia touring Jay and Silent Bob Get Old, back in April. How did you enjoy our country?

JM: Oh, very much man. Australia’s definitely a place I’d wanted to visit for years and years. I was just always, “Oh, do I want to fly? It takes so long,” and all that. But I still was like, “I want to go when I get the chance.” The cool thing now is that, you know, when you make a trip it’s usually one or two cities; we got to go to five different cities. I can’t complain. I got to go out there and sit in front of a bunch of people which was awesome, and do our show, and we had days in between, in each city, to do a little sightseeing and hang out on the beach and stuff. It was awesome man. People were very nice and it was a really good time.

SM: Nice one. Your new DVD features shows from the UK tour. I’m curious: do the crowds change around the world? How do the Aussie fans compare? How do the UK fans compare?

JM: It depends. I definitely feel like it depends on if there’s booze in the mix; how big of a crowd it is; how long they’ve waited. The doors will open at such time, but it takes so long for them to load in, and they’ve been waiting there. It just really depends. I feel like anywhere we go it’s awesome because they’re there; they’re there to see us sit down and talk and do our show. You get some people that are a little rowdy; some cities are rowdier than others. But they’re all usually pretty pleasant. Maybe in the 60 shows we’ve done or whatever, there have been two people that are like, “F you man!” and that’s because they were getting kicked out for talking behind someone and they told a girl to shut up and slapped them in the face type of thing, and they get kicked out, and then yelled at us. Again, that’s a booze thing. You get too drunk and too rowdy. But Australia was awesome; every place we went over in Australia, and UK, Scotland, and Ireland were all fabulous and awesome.

SM: I’m glad to hear that. I assume for the most part with your shows you’re not 100% sure how it’s going to go; where the direction of the conversation will wind up; where Kevin will take you, which is different to a stand-up set or a stage play. Do you like walking out onto the stage without a net?

JM: Umm, I would say I do. Usually I do. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely times I feel like… for example, when we did Australia, we did a show at one city, and then at that same city we did a show the next night. Then we had one day down, and then we had to take a train to the next place, or fly to the next place. By the fourth or fifth one, I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been talking for almost five days straight for ten hours straight.” It doesn’t seem like it’s hard, but part of our show is talking about what’s been going on that week or that month, and also stuff in the past. I was like, “I’ve talked so much, are we going to be able to be funny because we’re tired? Are we going to be able to talk enough about stuff because we’re tired?” Because we’ve told these stories, this, this, this, and this, and this, and really we haven’t done much but talk at this place. We can’t go, “Well, two days ago man my balls fell out in front of a girl, and it was amazing because this happened and this happened. ” So, you know, I would say I like it, but definitely at times if I could throw a script in there, I think it would be safer almost. “Alright, all I do for the next hour is remember to say this script and feed off of Kevin.” But no, I love the whole process. The idea of the podcast is awesome, and couldn’t be different really, I don’t feel. It’s sort of me doing therapy, or whatever, and us telling stories of our friendship over the years, and all that. I like it. I like how it is. I can’t complain. I guess the answer to that question, because I’m babbling but I’m just telling you what I feel and all that, is that yes, I do like it, and I don’t think I would like it better if there was a safety net, because it would be a different show.

SM: Going back to the podcast, as you mentioned, it was originally formed as a weekly intervention for yourself. You’d obviously been a guest on Kevin’s SModcast a number of times, but were you apprehensive when the idea for the show first formed? About talking about yourself? About talking about these personal experiences in this way?

JM: No, because I believe at that time I’d had a bunch of relapses. I’d been sober for such and such months and then relapsed and then was sober for almost five years and then relapsed. At that point, Kevin was like, “Look man, I think it’ll help you if we talk about it.” When he first opened his mouth and said, “I think you should talk about all the stuff that’s going on,” yeah, for one second I’m like, “Wow, do I want to tell people all this stuff?” And then he’s like, “Look, I think it’ll help you,” and I’m like, “You know what? You’re probably right? Why not try something different to see if it helps me.” So, I would say for a second I was a little like, “Am I going to be able to express this, and say all this stuff out loud with a bunch of people watching me and talk about me sucking up dirty puddle water or toilet water to shoot dope and stuff? How weird is that going to be?” But that was just a second. I thought, if it can help me, then that was that.

SM: As it stands, you and Kevin have basically built careers around your personas. You make a living by being yourself and sharing that with people. Do you ever wonder what you’d be doing with your life if you hadn’t appeared in Clerks almost twenty years ago?

JM: It’s such a hard thing, it’s so… I don’t know. I would say the easiest thing, I mean, I would hope to have owned my own roofing business. That’s sort of where I was going.

SM: Right.

JM: I’m not saying, now, “Oh, I would hope to own a five-chain restaurant.” But I’m just saying at that moment when I shot the movie and where I was going, I was roofing, and at that point I was like, “Wow, my boss has a nice house, a couple cars, and he makes good money, and this seems like a good thing. I know a good amount of stuff about roofing; I’m going to do this for years, get to know more and more, then get my own business and that will be awesome.” I would think that’s sort of the path I would have stayed on. I’m not sure though of course, because at that point I wasn’t even thinking of drugs and that being in the mix.

SM: Of course. Just finally, there’s a sense of reflectiveness in the Jay and Silent Bob Get Old podcast, where the two of you look back on your lives so far. Where do you hope the next half of your career takes you?

JM: I definitely love what we’re doing and I love that we have the company and we’re sort of producing. I’m hoping that I get to produce a few things. I’m definitely in love with TV. I mean, I watch so many television shows that I like, like Leverage, Grimm, Law and Order; there’s a bunch of new ones that I can’t even think of, there’s so many. Oh, Alphas is a new one. Anyway, I really like TV, so I would love to get on a TV show, and even more so than that, I tell Kevin all the time, “Let’s try to sit down,” – he’s pretty busy – “Let’s try to sit down and write a TV show and try to get a cool TV show going, and I would love to produce and direct a couple episodes.” That would be awesome. That’s sort of what I’m going to start doing; producing more and directing more, and of course continue to act and be in stuff. Again, ideally, I think a cool TV show would be awesome.

Jay and Silent Bob Get Old arrives on DVD in Australia July 18, 2012.

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