Over the course of the last year, Lansdowne Street has remained strikingly silent. That is, until Silent Bob, err, Kevin Smith came to town to deliver some Cow Tipper Burgers and Cock Smoker Chicken Sandwiches, a generous dose of View Askew nostalgia, and some much needed all-around good times to kick off the Boston installment of his ongoing pop-up restaurant experience, which brings his fictional fast food digs Mooby’s to life.
Joining in on the fun before cutting the ribbon alongside our favorite golden calf on Thursday (April 8), Smith chatted and took pictures with fans at Boston’s House of Blues to commemorate his most recent landing in the commonwealth, and start a new chapter in the story of an event that has helped make a rather “mother mother fuck fuck” of a year a bit more tolerable. He may not have too many lines as Jason Mewes’ trench coat-wearing, level-headed compadre, but when it comes to sprinkling some love on the loyal fanbase that has helped to catapult him into the lexicon of iconic modern filmmakers, the Red Bank, New Jersey native can’t say enough.
During the opening of the Mooby’s pop-up, which runs to April 15, Vanyaland had a chance to sit down with Smith a few hours before the grand opening to discuss the experience, the continuously evolving View Askewuniverse fanbase, and how it just feels right when you say shit like “Cock Smokah” with a Boston accent. Check it out below, with some photos of the opening-day action after the chat.
Jason Greenough: Welcome back to Boston, Kevin! Before we dig in, I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you how you’ve been holding up during the pandemic.
Kevin Smith: We finished the Jay & Silent Bob Reboot Roadshow tour on February 26 of last year, then the whole fucking world shut down, like, a week later, and we had been on the road for about six months. So when the pandemic hit, and everybody was like ‘get inside, stay inside,’ I was actually okay with that. Right on, man, I get to stay home. Once the tour was over, I was going to be leaving for Austin to go to SXSW, and just keep things going, so for me, it was kind of a nice, welcomed respite to just relax at home with the family. All of us were trapped together at a certain point, and it was nice.
My job works as such that I can do it from home, and I had been doing it from home for years anyway, so it didn’t affect me that much at all. I mean, it affected our business, and us being able to tour and do shows, but generally speaking, I was okay to sit around the house for a few months, or what turned into a year.
Well, we’ve made our way through the last year, and now we’re here at the Mooby’s pop-up at the House of Blues here in Boston. How does it feel to bring the legacy of Mooby’s to Ben Affleck’s hometown?
[laughs] Well, that’s what makes it super special, because it’s where “the boys” are from. I was just thinking of him when we pulled up here, because I was like “holy shit, we are right next to fucking Fenway,” and I think the last time I was around here was something that had to do with Gone Baby Gone, if I remember correctly, but out of all the places that we’ve gone to — this is the 10th city in nine months — on the View Askew map, Boston has significance to our fans and our world because of Ben and Matt [Damon]. So, we’d be remiss if we didn’t swing through here. It feels great to be able to bring it here and share it with the folks who are remotely interested in sticking a Cock Smoker in their mouth.
This is the perfect place to say that. “Cock Smokah.” It’s a perfect place for the pronunciation of that sandwich. “Get me a Cow Tippah and a Cock Smokah.”
So, what went into the decision-making process of making sure a Boston Mooby’s happened, aside from the fanbase here?
Basically, everyone except for the first restaurant where we did it in Los Angeles have been restaurants that have reached out to us and asked “hey, can we do it here?” So, basically, people ask, and we’re like “that seems like a cool market, let’s go there.” It’s been such an easy business. We don’t really have to generate anything. It only really requires me to maybe show up and that’s about it, but we’re working with restaurants to cosplay as Mooby’s for eight to 10 days, so essentially, where they’re already in the business of making food, you shrink the menu down to a certain amount of items that we do during that week, so the job gets easier to begin with, and it’s a steady flow because of the reservation system. They know exactly how many meals they’re making every day, and this place has been closed for awhile, as has every other restaurant we’ve gone to, because of the pandemic, and the crews haven’t seen each other for awhile.
Like, at Christmas time, we were in Minneapolis, and those cats were so ecstatic because they were like “we haven’t worked in months, and this is great because it’s right around Christmas, but we all haven’t seen each other,” and I’m not saying it’s completely altruistic, but it did become this thing where we didn’t have to engineer it and find places to go. Places reached out to us, and generally, it was the same story of them having nothing going on, and if it’s going to bring in three-thousand people for a week to ten days, that’s incredible.
So, it’s been nice. We won’t get rich off of doing Mooby’s pop-ups, and it’s tough to get rich in the restaurant business from what I understand, but a pop-up is even harder because it’s not like you’re established for a long time and can make a ton of loot, so it’s not like I can retire off this shit. I like doing it because I like going places and selling merchandise. [laughs] After we had done it four times, I was like “can we get a Mooby suit?” so this is just fun. As long as it isn’t costing really anything and restaurants are making money, and as long as it’s a place I can get to, it’s just fun. And for me, it’s like one more chapter in the book where we can look back years later and go “remember that year we did restaurants? That was fuckin’ strange.” And if we get lucky, it’s something we can keep doing, and integrate into all the other live stuff we do, so if we’re going to a city to do a show in the future, a Mooby’s could be there. So even in a pandemic, that’s where Mooby’s kind of came to light, where it turned into a beneficial thing.
A few of the days have completely sold out already here in Boston. How do you feel that turnout speaks to the loyal fanbase you and Jay [Mewes] have cultivated over the years here?
It feels amazing, but at the same time, since they last a week to 10 days, you hit every single Kevin Smith fan within a tri-state area. That’s everybody. [laughs]. It feels nice, but imagining what it would be like if we were to do it every day, they’d be like “fuck you.” So, by keeping it compact, it makes me feel good to look at it and go “wow, we have a bunch of fans,” but we really just have enough to fill that restaurant run for a week to 10 days. [laughs]
But I am appreciative that anybody knows the reference [of Mooby’s]. For years, we’ve had people say “you should do Mooby’s in the real world,” and we’d go “nobody is going to know that unless you know our movies,” but when we started doing these, the amount of recognition we got was crazy, as people would be like “that’s the place from those flicks,” and we’d be like “this is great, but where were all you people when we were at the box office? We could’ve used this kind of support,” [laughs] but it feels very sweet.
Longevity is always this wonderful byproduct of the job, where we’ve been doing it for over 25 years now, so if you didn’t see Mooby’s in Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, maybe you saw it in Clerks 2, or maybe you saw it in [Jay & Silent Bob] Strike Back, or maybe you saw it in Dogma. There’s some era to grab anybody. So, when parents show up with their kids, and I assume that the kids are being dragged along, but then they tell me they’re fans too, it means the absolute world to me. In an era where we didn’t get to do a lot of live shows that put us in contact with a live audience, this has been a good substitute, because not only am I coming to these opening days and taking pictures with folks, but it’s something different from the usual thing of me going “listen to me fucking talk for two hours again.” This time time around, they can come eat a Cock Smoker.
You mentioned interacting with fans. After doing all of these pop-ups in different cities, has there been anything new that you feel that you’ve learned, or even re-learned, about your fanbase by getting closer to them in this capacity?
I always kind of assume that I know exactly what the fanbase is, and what it looks like and that I’ve met every single fan, but that’s just never the case. It’s a massive world out there, and someone is always tripping over these movies, and thanks to Twitter, I see people all the time who are like “I just found these flicks,” and to me, it’s great because it’s better late than never. What always surprises me is, just when I think to myself that I know what the fanbase looks like, then I’ll do a live event, and the fanbase doesn’t look like what I assume they’d look like. I’m always shocked that there are younger people. I assume they’re always around my age and that you had to be around in ‘94 to enjoy this shit, but they wind up being younger art school kids, comic book kids and stuff like that.
So, every time I go to an event, it’s like “wow, it’s not what I thought,” because it isn’t a senior citizen meeting, because if I’m 50, I assume most of the audience is, as well. But seeing folks come in who are way under 50 is always mind-bending to me, and I’m happy, but it also makes me think “What is it? Is it like how someone could like old jeans? Why would a young person like this shit?”
Personally, I’ve been a fan of your work for a long time, and my wife loved you on Degrassi, so I guess you could say we’re in that “liking old jeans” crowd.
[laughs] Fuckin’ A, that’s one of those tangentials where, because we did Degrassi, we found this weird audience of tween girls who are like “I know you!” and then I’m like “How?!” because you never want to be accused of knowing a random tween girl. Then they’ll tell me they know me from Degrassi, and then it’s like “Oh yes, of course. I dispensed wisdom in the halls of Degrassi, and now that makes sense as to why you know me.”
It seems as if I’m down to my last question. What has been your favorite part of doing these pop-ups? And how would you describe the Mooby’s pop-up experience for someone who may not be able to make it to one, in Boston or otherwise?
The Mooby’s pop-up experience is kind of like walking into a Kevin Smith movie for a half-hour, and that’s to say it’s kind of disappointing and confusing, and everybody talks the same, and all the other things I’m always criticized for. [laughs] But it does have this fun vibe to it. It’s like a low-rent, one-room Disneyland, ya know what I’m saying? [laughs] We know what Disney World and Disneyland are today, but maybe in the beginning, Walt Disney was like “we can stick it all in one room and make it happen,” and then he was told to go for rides and shit like that. We actually did the pop-up in Orlando, which is the theme-park capital, and we seemed to fit in there pretty nicely.
So, seeing that has been kind of nuts, where it’s a moveable feast. When we did it in Los Angeles, I thought “I’m going to enjoy this because we’ll never do it again,” and then when we moved it to Red Bank, suddenly, we realized that we could keep doing this. To me, I’m always surprised that there’s yet another city that is asking us to bring it there. It’s been delightful to see it keep going, and I can’t believe it’s still going, but that speaks well to the food, I think. If the food sucked, the word would be terrible and people would tell us not to do it, but the food is actually pretty damn good. You come because you want to see some movie paraphernalia, but then you actually get a pretty good meal. Not to mention, we generally involve other local partners, like a beer partner [Framingham-based Jack’s Abby curated a special Mooby–inspired can for the Boston dates] or maybe we’ll get a CBD partner or something, so not only are we working with a local restaurant in the community, but other merchants in the community, as well.
For an egotist like myself, I get to see that dopey cow character be re-conceived in every market on a can of beer and shit like that, and for me, I’m at a point in my career where it’s about how much I can do before I drop dead so that my Wikipedia page is as long as Liam Neeson’s cock. [laughs] So I just want to keep it going. And after the heart attack and stuff, it’s even more than ever, where I just want to do whatever the fuck strikes my fancy. If this had happened before the heart attack, it never would have happened before the heart attack, because I would’ve thought “nobody wants that shit,” but after the heart attack, it’s that feeling of “I want that the shit,” so it’s nice that other people dig it too. If I dropped dead a couple years ago, I would’ve missed this part of the ride, and this part of the ride has been nuts, man.
For reservation information on the Mooby’s Boston pop-up, click here. All photos below by Jason Greenough for Vanyaland.