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| 11 September 2015 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

As half of the Jay & Silent Bob double act that feature in many of Kevin Smith’s movies including Clerks I & II, Mallrats, …Strike Back and Dogma, Jason Mewes is a minor legend of hilariously foul motor-mouthed stoner comedy, and he’s heading to Australia with Smith as part of the writer/director’s An Evening With… Tour.

Friday 18th September – State Theatre, Sydney (All Ages)
Saturday 19th September – Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane – EARLY SHOW (18+)
Saturday 19th September – Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane – LATE SHOW (18+)
Monday 21st September – Palais Theatre, Melbourne (All Ages)
Wednesday 23rd September – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide (All Ages)
Saturday 26th September – Riverside Theatre, PCEC, Perth (All Ages)

Mewes harassed Smith so much when they were unknowns that the filmmaker cast him in 1994’s ultra-low-budget Clerks, spawning a raft of sequels and follow-up movies. From acquaintances and co-stars, Smith became a big brother figure to Mewes as he struggled with drug addictions, and their friendship evolved from there, with Smith even creating a weekly podcast to talk about Mewes’ issues and help keep him on the straight and narrow.

Jason Mewes - Jay & Silent Bob 01

Mewes is excited to be heading to Australia for a week in late September, but disappointed to be leaving Logan, his infant daughter to wife Jordan Monsanto, behind.

“I’m very excited. You know, it’s been a few years now so I’m excited to go back and get to run around again and check things out and stuff, so I’m always excited to do some travelling over there. We were supposed to go back sooner and then things happened and all that. I’m very excited. The only downside for me now is I’m going to be sad leaving my baby.

“April 1st she was born,” he continues with all the awe of a loving Dad, “so she needs a little [time]. We thought about bringing her out and stuff but we decided not to. Because it’s not just [flying] out there, but also while we’re there, we’re going to be doing a lot of jumping around. We’re going to be in Adelaide and Perth, so it’s going to be a lot of moving around from one place to the next and I definitely just think it would be too much for her to jump on the trains, planes and automobiles.”

Fatherhood obviously agrees with Mewes, as he all but glows down the phone line.

“It’s honestly been really amazing. Each day is her keeping growing a little bit and making facial expressions and just everything has been… it’s been amazing. I can’t wait ‘til she gets older. Already I’ve been going to the baby store and going crazy and that’s baby stuff – I know when she gets older going to Toys R Us and stuff, that’s going to be fun, but yeah, it’s been awesome.”

Jason Mewes 01

Talk turns to the Jay And Silent Bob Get Old podcasts and their success in helping Mewes hold on to his sobriety, and I remark that he sounds really healthy. He describes how his last fall off the wagon – he started abusing painkillers after back surgery in 2009 – prompted Smith to start their weekly broadcasts.

“It has [been successful], thank you. It’s been really great. We figured out, I think, [I’d been clean for] like 4 ½ years and Kevin asked after all that much time, what made me sort of fall off-track. I told him that I hadn’t been accountable to people at that point.

“I had moved down by the beach in California and I’d just started dating my wife and I just wasn’t really going to [AA] meetings or being accountable to many people, and wasn’t talking about what was going on with me and all that, and I forgot how bad it was because I had gotten so good after four years. I was so healthy and I was feeling good and I just forgot – like, oh, taking this painkiller is going to lead to two days and 5 five days and a month and six months.

“I explained that to him and he says, ‘wow!’ and I’d been telling him I wanted to do a podcast, and he was like, ‘I think we could do a podcast and you talk about everything and then this way, you’re accountable to everybody. As long as we keep doing it, you will have to keep accountable to people,’ and yeah it’s definitely been a big help. It’s been, like, 5 years in and I’ll be at Starbucks and someone will be like, ‘hey man, I was listening to your podcast – how long have you been clean?’ and stuff.

“It’s like, people ask me constantly, and then when we do our shows, we’re telling all these stories, and it reminds me. It’s funny now and I can make them entertaining and stuff, the stories, but it definitely reminds me like, ‘hey, I don’t want to be drinking puddle water or toilet water, and putting it in my arms and stuff.’ Again, it’s something I can laugh at now but it definitely reminds me of where I am now and where I can be very quickly if I get back to that [bad] place. It’s been a big help, the podcasts, for sure.”

Jason Mewes 03

Even from this short exchange it’s obvious that Mewes isn’t shy of talking about his deepest personal issues. It’s extremely brave and honest, but is there anything that he keep to himself? Is there anything that he considers sacred, his own personal space, and off-limits to talking about?

“No, I guess there really hasn’t been,” Mewes says with typical frankness, “I was talking about this the other day with Kevin and there’s really not much. I mean there’s definitely some stuff I feel that I won’t… I tell stories about my wife and I, and we were on a trip and this happened and that happened. There’s definitely stuff that she’ll want me to keep to myself and I’ll wind up telling it 50% of the time anyway unless it’s something really embarrassing.

“Honestly, it’s like even with her at this point, she’s into the podcast. She’s the one who runs Smodcore with Kevin and sets up the tours and she’s the one who deals with all the Australians, setting all this stuff up. She’s super into the podcast – at the beginning she’d be embarrassed if I even mentioned that she’d walked through the room and farted. Now she’ll fart and she’ll be like, ‘hey, you’d better put that on your podcast’!

“She’ll want the funny stories on the show now. So as I was saying, for the most part 99% of everything is out there and the 1% – I don’t know what that is, maybe we haven’t spoken about [it], but I just know every once in a while there might be something where it’s not even necessarily me as much as the wife might be like, ‘you’d better not say this on your podcast.’”

Jason Mewes - Jay & Silent Bob 02

Which brings us neatly to the question of whether their podcasts or stage shows are scripted or improvised…

“Definitely I would say it’s all improv’d in the sense of how I’m telling you or talking about it, but I do prepare the notes of what I’m going to talk about, because mainly I’ll jot down in my notebook the different stories because I try not to repeat stuff. I will repeat stuff sometimes: like we’re in Australia say this time, I might tell a story from the last time we were there if something funny happened on the way home from Australia, whatever.

“I’ll jot down like, ‘oh, I want to tell that story, what happened down the train station from this city to this city or the plane on the way from Perth to Melbourne or whatever.’ I definitely jot down notes and try to keep track of what stories I’m telling, what city we’re in or state. I’ll try to keep track of that and just sort of jot down things that I know I want to mention.

“Like the last show we did was right after I got back from Hawaii and a couple of things happened that were funny in Hawaii. I made sure to just jolt down like, like, you know, ‘when we were at the hotel in Hawaii, this happened,’ and then I’d just tell the story how it really went down, but again, I’ve prepped it in the sense of joting down, ‘hey, I want to mention this story. I want to mention the car ride home from the airport. I want to mention this,’ you know what I mean?

“Again, it’s really just the story and what we’re talking about is all out there but I definitely keep track of some things I want to make sure I mention.”

Jason Mewes - Jay & Silent Bob 03

Mewes’ childhood was not a happy one. His mother was a drug addict and habitually stole to feed her habit, often dragging him from place to place and encouraging him to commit petty larceny as well. After high school he got a job as a roofer, before meeting Smith and then – almost despite himself – falling into acting and comedy and ulktimately producing. He is unquestionably aware of how unreal it is and almost feels the need to pinch himself from time to time to make sure it’s not all a dream.

“Definitely, a lot of the time,” he enthuses. “I mean definitely, like even just now – I mentioned Hawaii. I went out and I shot an episode of Hawaii Five O-h! I get to play the a guy who sold the gun to the guy who kills somebody, and they chase me and then they capture me and they interrogate me, that type of thing. The awesome thing is they flew me out and I shot the running scene where they chase me on Thursday and they didn’t need me again till next Thursday. I brought the wife and the baby out and from Thursday to Thursday, we just got to hang out and sit by the pool and go to the beach and check out a luau.

“While we were sitting in Hawaii, sitting on the porch looking at the ocean and the palm trees, I’m like, ‘this is crazy,’ like, we got free tickets flying us out, you know, first class tickets out to Hawaii with a nice hotel for a week that they’re paying for and per day and, like, cash money to use to eat and stuff, and I’m getting to be on TV and vacation for free,” so I really do have to pinch myself!”

Living the dream, man!

“I definitely had to pinch myself,” he laughs. “Well to me, I was like sitting there going, ‘this is so surreal. This is so crazy that this is what I get to do.’ I get to sit with my baby and my wife on a paid trip to Hawaii, and then not only that, I get to be on a cool TV show that I love. The show is awesome and I’m going to star in the show.

“So yes, all the time, I definitely pinch myself and think how lucky and blessed I am because yes, I was roofing and Kevin was like, ‘I wrote you into this movie.’ Even after [we made] Clerks I went back to roofing. It wasn’t until after I made Mallrats and went home for a week , then went out to Vancouver to shoot an independent movie [1996’s Drawing Flies], that I stopped and thought, ‘wow, I just did three movies, maybe this is something I can actually do for a living.’

“So yeah, I had no plan on doing it and no idea that 20 years later, I would be touring all over; going to Australia to sit and talk about growing up with my buddy and the different things that have gone on. It’s surreal. It’s still surreal to me and I definitely pinch myself like you said.”

Mews and Smith have been close friends now for over 25 years. There’s been some big successes and a couple of commercial flops, as well as personal ups and downs – the most dramatic of which had Smith refusing to cast Jay in several movies because of his drug use at those times. Despite that – or perhaps because of it – their friendship has become something even stronger, and their feet still remain firmly on the ground, with no signs of Hollywood rockstar egos affecting the pair.

“No, I definitely think… people ask how Kevin and I have stayed friends for so long and all that and how we’re able to work together and stuff. I definitely think it has a lot to do with, Kevin doesn’t have ego and I don’t have an ego. I definitely see that’s why him and I have been able to work together and travel together and literally spend almost every day together for years and years. So I’m real stoked about that and again, I cherish our friendship. It’s been awesome.”

Jason Mewes 02

Despite the podcasts, the fatherhood, the touring show, there’s lots more happening in Mewes & Smith’s lives. Having released the gothic horror movie Tusk last year, they have a sort-of follow-on called Yoga Hosers coming up, as well as working on a sequel to Mallrats and a third instalment of Clerks.

“Yeah, hopefully all this comes through,” Mewes confirms. “Well Yoga Hosers is already ready, technically. There’s a few little minor edits and colour correction and stuff. That should be out in, like, 2 months and then yeah, hopefully at the end of October, we’ll start shooting Mallrats 2 if everything goes as planned. Then yeah, we’ve got the podcast that we’re touring with and then there’s also some other things that are in the works that are possibilities.

“Hopefully everything keeps going and we just get to keep working and again, the good thing is we get to do all this together and Kevin and I get to spend time together and work together. My wife, like I said, is partners with Kevin in the company and she runs everything – like she set up the whole Australia tour with the agents and all that. It’s cool because if she didn’t have the baby, she would have went out with us this time, and so I get to work with her as well. It’s been really awesome and it’s been great, the last five years have been great.

“Thank you sir, see you soon,” he signs off, his distinctive voice ringing of his on-screen alter-ego.

And on that positive note Mewes is off to his next call – always keeping busy, staying accountable, and hopefully remaining straight.

An edited version of this story was first published in X-Press Magazine’s 26 August issue.

Category: Interviews

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