‘Snoochie Boochies’: 53 Trivia Tidbits About Kevin Smith on His 53rd Birthday
“This job would be great if it wasn’t for the fucking customers.”
That, along with “I’m not even supposed to be here today,” “I assure you, we’re open” and dozens of other, far more vulgar lines became part of movie history 29 years ago with the release of the cult film Clerks, written and directed by Kevin Smith — who, of course, also played Silent Bob in that film and several others since.
Today, the imagineer of the so-called View Askewniverse turns 53 years old, and to celebrate his birthday, we’ve gathered these 53 tidbits, including the origin of the phrase “Snoochie boochies...”
The Birth of Bluntman
Smith was born on August 2, 1970, in Austin, Texas — just kidding, he was born in New Jersey, of course. Red Bank, New Jersey, to be exact.
The Secret Stash
Red Bank is also where Smith’s comic shop, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, is located. Presently at 65 Broad Street, it features iconic props from many of Smith’s films.
Quick Stop, the convenience store where Clerks was filmed, is about 15 minutes from the Secret Stash in Leonardo, New Jersey.
The ‘Mallrats’ Mall
As for Mallrats, while the movie takes place in New Jersey, the mall it was filmed in was actually the Eden Prairie Center in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
Smith was Raised Catholic — But Then He Met George Carlin
Smith has credited Carlin with disabusing him of Catholicism after they worked together on Dogma.
‘Dogma’ and Catholicism
Smith Was Motivated by His Dad’s Disdain for His Job
Smith’s father, who passed away in 2003, was a postal worker who was displeased with his job. Smith has often cited his father’s unhappiness as part of the reason he pursued his dream of filmmaking.
He Dropped out of The New School and Vancouver Film School
Smith briefly attended New York City’s The New School for social research, then dropped out to attend Vancouver Film School, which he also dropped out of. However, Vancouver Film School did lead to him meeting longtime collaborator Scott Mosier.
Meeting Jason Mewes
A 17-year-old Smith met a 13-year-old Mewes while Smith was working at a Recreation Center that Mewes would go to. As Smith has described it, “We became really good friends, and I think he’s the most original human being I’ve ever met. Hands down an American original.”
Snoochie Boochie’s Beginning
Smith once recalled the origin of Mewes’ phrase “Snoochie boochies,” which began as “neh” and evolved from there. “Basically, it was a defense mechanism,” Smith explained. “It was almost like a nervous condition. He would be like, ‘I slept with your mom last night — neh!’ And ‘neh’ meant: ‘Don’t hit me. I didn’t really sleep with your mom last night. I’m joking.’ The kid was always going, ‘Neh, neh, neh, neh, neh, neh,’ and then it grew; he started finessing it. He’d be like, ‘Noitch!’ and then like, ‘Nooch,’ but (it meant the) same thing, ‘I slept with your mom, nooch.’ He got to throw a Dutch on it, and then it would grow to where he’d be like, ‘I slept with your mom last night, snoochie boochies,’ and stuff like that. It was amazing. I watched the language grow.”
Miramax Didn’t Want Mewes to Play Jay
After the Jay and Silent Bob characters had been established in Clerks, Smith had them return for Mallrats, but Miramax wanted an established actor to play Jay — suggesting Seth Green or Breckin Meyer. Mewes had to audition for the role, with Smith having to pay to bring Mewes out to Minnesota. Fortunately, Mewes’ performance in the dailies convinced Miramax.
Smith Sas Inspired by ‘Slacker’
On his 21st birthday, Smith saw the 1990 film Slacker. “I never imagined, before seeing that movie, myself as a storyteller, let alone a filmmaker,” Smith said. He credited star, director and writer Richard Linklater with making independent filmmaking seem possible, and Smith began to imagine telling a day-in-the-life story in the area where he grew up.
The Letter That Changed Everything
When he was still attending Vancouver Film School, Smith got the idea for Clerks, a story placed in the Quick Stop convenience store he’d worked at as a teenager. Smith wrote a letter to his old boss asking if he could film there, and the owner, Mr. Thapar, wrote back, “I have no objection if you want to shoot inside the store.” Smith explained that “by granting me permission to make a movie inside of Quick Stop, he gave me a shot at a life I was dreaming about: a future in film. If the answer had been no, without the key location/set, I never would’ve written Clerks in the first place.”
The Real Inspiration for Dante and Randal
Dante Hicks, the main character of Clerks, is based on Smith himself, while Randal Graves is based on Smith’s friend Bryan Johnson. Clerks was inspired by the time the two spent working at Quick Stop and the neighboring video store, R.S.T. Video.
Randal Was Written for Smith
Smith originally planned to play Randal himself, but he explained, “As we got closer to (filming Clerks), I was like, ‘I can’t memorize all this dialogue,’ so I went for the role with no dialogue whatsoever, Silent Bob. But that’s why Randal has all the best jokes — because I wanted to be Randal.”
The origin of Dante’s name comes from Dante Alighieri, the author of The Divine Comedy from the 1300s. Smith drew some loose inspiration for Clerks from The Divine Comedy, giving Clerks nine separate chapters to represent Dante’s nine circles of hell.
The Budget of ‘Clerks’
Smith made Clerks for $27,000 and had to sell his comic-book collection to make the film.
‘Clerks’ Was Shot in Three Weeks
Smith shot Clerks in three weeks and could only film during times when Quick Stop was closed. The reason the shutters were closed in the film was so that they could film at night for daytime scenes.
Awards for ‘Clerks’
Clerks won the Mercedes-Benz Award, the Golden Camera Award and the Foreign Film Award at Cannes in 1994. It also won a Filmmaker’s Trophy at Sundance that same year.
Alan Dershowitz Defended ‘Clerks’
Miramax couldn’t get Clerks approved as an R-rated film, with the ratings board opting instead for NC-17, which would drastically shrink the audience. So Miramax hired Dershowitz, who successfully argued for the R-rating.
The Inspiration for ‘Mallrats’
“I’d spent a lot of time at the mall as a kid,” Smith said, “As a Jersey boy, we’ve got nothing but malls.”
Stan Lee in ‘Mallrats’
According to Smith, Lee’s part in Mallrats isn’t a cameo. “I think we might be the first cinematic cameo that Stan did,” Smith said. “Everyone calls it a cameo, but to me, he was actually one of the supporting characters. He’s in the movie for quite a bit, and he was in there because we loved him.”
Lee wasn’t quite a household name when Mallrats came out, and, according to Smith, Lee returned the favor of casting him in Mallrats down the road. “Years later, when they made the Captain Marvel movie, Stan’s on the train, and he’s reading the script for Mallrats. It says ‘Mallrats by Kevin Smith,’ and in that way, he kind of introduced me to a bunch of kids that don’t know who the hell I am. He returned the favor. He was a friend, man.”
Smith Was Warned Not to Hire Ben Affleck
Mallrats producer Jim Jacks didn’t want Affleck in Mallrats. As Smith recalled, Jacks told him, “There’s a guy coming in today, and I don’t want him in the movie. (It’s) Ben Affleck. He was in Dazed and Confused, and he’s got a real potty mouth. There were a lot of ‘fucks’ and curses in that script already, and then Ben threw in like hundreds more.” Regardless, Smith liked Affleck’s audition and hired him.
‘Chasing Amy’ Was Smith’s Redemption
Chasing Amy began shooting on March 25, 1996. On the 25th anniversary of that date, Smith wrote, “After the sky-high debut of Clerks, my second flick, Mallrats, crashed and burned, earning only $2 million on a $5 million budget. So a year after I was crowned an Indie Film Golden Boy, I became an Indie Film Cautionary Tale. That inspired a return to our low-budget roots with a personal film that doubled down on the comic-books-centric world of Mallrats with the comic-book-biz world of Chasing Amy. We showcased comic conventions and panels, fickle fandom and made life a little bit harder for inkers… $250k later and less than a year after we started shooting, Amy would premiere to a standing ovation at Sundance 1997. Ben (Affleck) started shooting Good Will Hunting afterward (which Scott and I were producers on), Jason Lee and I won Indie Spirit Awards, and Joey got a Golden Globe Nomination. But long before that stuff came to pass, on this day in 1996? We were all just kids trying to prove they belonged at the table.”
Kevin Smith Struggled With his ‘Chasing Amy’ Monologue
Smith said his monologue in Chasing Amy was “nerve-wracking,” and he couldn’t remember the lines until he realized “I’m the writer” and began improvising the lines instead.
‘Chasing Amy’ Was Based on Smith’s Relationship with Joey Lauren Adams
Smith said that Chasing Amy was somewhat based on when he dated Adams, “She was a little more worldly than me, and it fucked with my head.”
‘Dogma’ Was Written First
Before Clerks was completed, Smith wrote the script for Dogma. The closing credits for Clerks actually state, “Jay and Silent Bob will return in Dogma.”
Matt Damon Loved Mewes in ‘Dogma’
Smith recalled in an interview that Damon once said, “Nobody’s saying it, but I’ll say it: Jason Mewes stole the movie out from under everybody.”
Smith Was Nervous About Directing ‘Dogma’
Dogma was Smith’s grandest film in scale at that point, and he nearly chickened out a week before filming. He called his friend, director Robert Rodriguez, and said, “I’m supposed to make this movie, Dogma, it’s got angels; it’s about the end of the world. I don’t think I can do it. Would you direct it next week?” Rodriguez then told Smith, “You can do this, man. Here’s my one tip for you: Just pull the camera away from the wall. You’re always shooting against the wall. Turn it towards a window.”
Smith Protested Dogma
Due to its lampooning of the Catholic faith, Dogma was widely protested. In 1999, Smith found out there would be local protests, and he thought it’d be funny if he and Bryan Johnson joined the mob. They made signs that read “To Hell with Dogma” and “Dogma is Dog Shit.” Smith was even interviewed by the local news as a protester.
‘Dogma’ Was Smith’s Biggest Film at the Box Office — But You Can’t Watch It Digitally
Dogma was Smith’s biggest commercial success, making $28 million at the box office. It was subsequently released on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray, but is currently unavailable because the film is owned by Harvey Weinstein. As Smith has said, “My movie about angels is being held by the devil himself.”
Jay and Silent Bob Cameo in ‘Scream 3’
During the filming of Scream 3, Bob Weinstein had the idea of a cameo with Jay and Silent Bob — the duo ended up in a scene with Courteney Cox’s character, Gale Weathers. Interestingly, Matthew Lillard’s character was shown to own a copy of Clerks in the first Scream film and Smith put a copy of Scream 3 in his film Jersey Girl.
‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’ Was Supposed to Be ‘Just Fun’
After the controversy of Dogma Smith decided, “The next movie, I’m going to make something that’s just fun… Something that nobody could be offended by.” That movie was Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
But It Wasn’t So Fun
Despite the goal of just having fun, Mewes’ drug use and alcoholism made the filming of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back difficult. Part of the reason Smith made the 2019 film Jay and Silent Bob Reboot was to make up for this film’s difficult memories.
‘Strike Back’ Was Originally the View Askew Swan Song
At the time, Smith intended Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back to be the last View Askew film, which is why God (Alanis Morissette) closes the Askewniverse book after the credits.
Dimension Films Wanted More Jay and Silent Bob Movies
In an interview, Smith said, “The studio was like, ‘Just do a bunch of these Jay and Silent Bob movies.’ They wanted, at one point, for us to cross over; it was such a weird idea in retrospect. At the certain point in their career, Abbott and Costello did a bunch of comedies, but then they started teaming them up with the Universal monsters. The idea was that we should team you guys up with the monsters that we have at Dimension. It was going to be Jay and Bob versus Pinhead from Hellraiser and Michael Myers — because they had the Halloween franchise — and Children of the Corn. The idea was going to be that Jay and Silent Bob would work the puzzle box from Hellraiser, and it would send them to different places. The first place it sent them was rehab — that was their idea of hell.”
Kevin Smith vs. Tim Burton
Around the release of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Smith got into a dispute with Burton. Smith had jokingly said Burton ripped off a Jay and Silent Bob comic in Burton’s Planet of the Apes movie, and Smith was quoted as though he was serious and threatening legal action. Burton responded by saying that he doesn’t read comic books, and he especially wouldn’t read something by Smith.
Smith’s Funniest Project
Smith recently said that the 2000 Clerks cartoon was “pound for pound, minute for minute, the funniest thing I’ve ever been involved with.”
Why Smith Made ‘Clerks II’
After the 2004 film Jersey Girl floundered, Smith returned to the View Askewniverse with Clerks II. When asked about why he was making the film, Smith said, “I really wanted to tell a story about what I thought it felt like it was like to be in my 30s.”
Filming ‘Clerks II’
The Mooby’s restaurant in Clerks II was filmed at an abandoned Burger King.
He Goes to Church Before and After Each Film
For “extra good mojo,” Smith attends church once before and once after each of his films.
His Daughter is Named After a Batman Villain
Smith’s daughter is named Harley Quinn Smith.
He’s Directed TV Too
In addition to his View Askew and non-View Askew films, Smith has directed three episodes of The Flash, four episodes of Supergirl and three episodes of The Goldbergs.
Why He Directed ‘Cop Out’
Smith had said he’d never direct a film he didn’t write but eventually decided to try it with the Bruce Willis/Tracy Morgan comedy Cop Out. Smith decided to direct Cop Out due to his affection for buddy cop movies.
Smith Didn’t Get Along with Willis
He Had a ‘Massive’ Heart Attack in 2018
On February 25, 2018, Smith had a “massive” heart attack. Afterward, he lost about 100 pounds and began living a healthier lifestyle.
Smith’s Heart Attack Changed ‘Jay and Silent Bob Reboot’
Smith had begun writing Jay and Silent Bob Reboot before his heart attack, but he revealed that the film changed after his brush with death. The plot was initially the same as Strike Back, with Jay and Silent Bob going to stop another movie being made about them. However, Smith changed it so that Jay finds out he’s a dad, becoming a story about fatherhood.
’Reboot’ Was Rejuvenating
After not making a View Askew film in over a decade, Smith said revisiting the characters was like “going to the fountain of youth.”
Kevin Smith and Ben Affleck
After Affleck starred in Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, he and Smith had something of a falling out. As Smith explained on Twitter, “It’s because one of us has a big mouth and told too many candid stories that sometimes weren’t his to tell, and the other one is Ben.”
The friendship mended with Jay and Silent Bob Reboot when a journalist asked Affleck if he was in the film. Affleck said no but hinted he was interested. After a week of hesitating, Smith texted Affleck, “To paraphrase the sad old King Osric in Conan the Barbarian? There comes a time when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison, and all that is left is a director’s love for the people he used to make pretend with.” Affleck subsequently appeared in Reboot, and the two have reunited as friends.
His Most Personal Film
While Smith has said all of his films are personal, he believes that “Clerks III probably is the most personal,” as he gave Randal his heart attack, and Randal and Dante subsequently make a very Clerks-like film.
A Return to the Mall
It’s been in the works for several years, but Smith is planning a sequel to Mallrats called Twilight of the Mallrats, which he categorized as an “unnecessary sequel set against the Mallpocalypse.”
On the Possibility of a ‘Clerks IV’
During the press tour for Clerks III, Smith did an interview with Yahoo! about a potential fourth Clerks film. He said, “I’ll never stop with the Clerks characters because I’ve found that Dante and Randall are my secret heart. That’s the best way into a personal story for me. They’re all personal because I steal from my own life.”
Because of that, he said, “As long as I’m alive, there’s a chance there’s another Clerks coming.”