So, Tuesday night Mrs. Schmoker and I braved the unexpected frigid cold to go and see Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier do a live version of their weekly podcast, Smodcast, in a dingy pit called Peabody's in Cleveland. It was a crazy, fun, occasionally frustrating, and unexpectedly intimate evening. The boys were in fine form, and the intimate setting (only 100-150 seats set up in what looked to normally be a headbanging dance club) made for one of the cooler experiences I have ever had. And I got a sex toy in the bargain.
You would think that my having a blog and all now, I would have snapped some pics (I was in the front row for the second show, after all), but I didn't even think about it. I even left my phone at home. I've never been a big picture taker, preferring memories to photos anytime, but after the jump I will drop a pic or two of the gifts Kevin and Scott gave to my wife and I (along with about a dozen other attendees). Just remember, if you click 'read more,' it's definitely NSFW.
The night started with the wife and I rushing to make the 6:15 showtime. Our plan was to watch the first show, and then maybe stay for the second if tickets were still available and the timing worked out. She had to be up for work at 5:30 am, and the second show wasn't even scheduled to start until 9:00 pm. But we don't venture far from our cave in Akron often, so we figured we might as well splurge once we got there. And we are both hardcore Smodcast freaks (as in, no, I did not have to drag her there), so it wasn't a hard sell for us to decide to kick out an extra $60 to get to stay for the whole evening.
Well, we almost changed our minds about that before we even got inside the building.
If you don't know Smodcast, it's basically a regular podcast on steroids and marijuana. Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, the writer-director and producer, respectively, of such classic films as Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back do a free weekly podcast (called SModcast, for Smith and Mosier) as a give back to their fans. Until very recently, all the expenses for producing and web hosting the show were out of pocket for Kevin (now they have a sponsor, the sex toy company Fleshlight), so it's always felt to me as if it were a true labor of love for Scott and Kev. Even the idea of them doing it for publicity is kind of silly, because anyone listening to Smodcast is going to be seeing their films no matter what.
And anyone going to the Live Nude Smod Tour... well, let's just say we all own multiple copies of Clerks and Dogma already.
So this Smodcast Tour was more of the same for Kevin and Mosier, as the tiny, dingy venue made very clear. Selling a couple hundred tickets at $30 a pop---and splitting that money with the venue---meant they were not even going to clear a small portion of their expenses for the show we saw, let alone any sort of profit. Maybe they were breaking even thanks to their sponsor, but that was it. And I would not be surprised if Kevin and Scott were at least somewhat out of pocket on the whole deal, sponsor or no sponsor.
After all, how many fucking fleshlights do you have to sell in order to make money off of sending Kevin and Scott tooling around the country in a giant gold Bang Bus?
Answer: A whole lot more than they are selling, I would guess. And even the handful of $20 T-shirts they sold probably only paid for Kevin's pizza and fleshlube supply for the trip.
Sorry, I meant Scott and Kevin's pizza. Kevin made it clear that the pizza delivered mid-Smod was for both of them. Sorry, Kev.
In an age when "giving back" to the fans usually means making something you can sell to them, the Smodcast Tour appears to be the true definition of fan charity. I had to pay $60 for our two seats, but not a dollar I spent was going to do anything but offset a tiny fraction of just the gas it took for Smith and Mosier to travel to Cleveland in their golden bus of bang. With barely 200 people (if that) in attendance, the rest of the money for the gas, food and lodging
Being true Kevin Smith fans, we arrived in Cleveland expecting to be late. We had enjoyed our leisurely drive to Cleveland to its fullest, as you might expect, and so we didn't even get off the freeway until 6:10, which was five minutes to showtime. Then we took a wrong turn, so it was 6:20 before we turned the corner and saw the crowd lined up outside Peabody's. We had not cared that we were probably missing the start of the first show, as we were planning on seeing the second show also, but the line gave me pause. Were people already in line for the second show nearly three hours before it began?
Did I make a plan and God was now chuckling at me?
So, I slowed down as we drove past the line of freezing stoners (an arctic blast had hit NE Ohio after several weeks of nice weather, so most everyone---ourselves included---were not dressed properly for the frigid cold whipping off of Lake Erie and through the wind tunnels created by the downtown buildings).
"Hey, has the show started?" I called out.
"No!" came a dozen replies.
"You mean we aren't late?"
Laughter drifted out of the crowd, rising into the air like so much exhaled Kush.
"No, man, you aren't late. We're still waiting to get in," said one of the many attendees who looked exactly like Kevin Smith.
I gave him the thumbs up as a thank you, and we drove around the corner to a parking lot. Both Mrs. Schmoker and I were pretty happy, as we thought we would end up now seeing both shows in their entirety.
I was pretty smug about it, too.
"Hey, this worked out well. We are late, and yet that just means we won't have to sit in that long line and freeze. And now we can see both shows in their entirety if we want."
Mrs. Schmoker gave me the thumbs up.
Ahh, how naive.
So, we moseyed over to the back of the line, and, as I expected, it was a line filled with people easy to talk to. We immediately struck up a conversation with a guy who had dragged his girlfriend there from Columbus, about two and half hours to the southwest. We talked and laughed for a bit, having a grand old time, until the talk shifted from, "So, when did you get into Smodcast?" to "Man, I wish someone would get in line behind us and act as a windbreak.
By this time it was 6:40, and the doors for the 6:15 show had yet to open. No one was sure what was going on, but there was a general consensus that the giant gold bus parked at the curb next to us indicated that maybe things were on a stoner schedule. Perhaps, we thought, Kevin and Scott were lubricating themselves thoroughly and the show would not begin until they were done.
Eventually, another couple did get in line behind us, with the girl expressing great relief that they were not late. Turns out that she had dragged her boyfriend to the show (which was a nice and surprising gender reversal) all the way from Ft. Wayne, Indiana. That's about a 4-5 hour trip, give or take Kush breaks.
Like us, this young couple wanted to stay for both shows. Also like us, they were not dressed for the line. The poor girl had on just a T-shirt, while Mrs. Schmoker had on only a thin shirt and thin leather jacket. And even after the line began to move, it did so in fits and starts. As it crept up on 7:00, talk shifted to one topic only: Did anyone think we were going to be forced to line up outside again if we wanted to see the second show? Our joy over not being late had dissipated, and now we started eying the Bang Bus with thoughts of storming the castle. It had to be warm in there, right?
By the time the line had inched to the door, all had decided that seeing the second show would depend ONLY on whether or not we would have to go outside again. As that was seeming more and more likely, we all just wanted to get inside first, and then see any show second.
Oh, don't worry. This story has a happy ending. I'm just giving you the blow-by-blow. And, to be totally honest, in the beginning, things really did blow.
So, just as we hit the door, and with about a dozen people still in front of us, we hear from inside, "Welcome to Smodcast!"
Yeah, they opened the doors late, took 45 minutes to let in fewer than 200 people, and yet still started the show with people waiting out in the freezing cold. At this point, a happy ending seemed unlikely. We had been there for nearly an hour, and the only reason we weren't in the club for the start of the show was because they wouldn't let us in
For Schmoker, I was pretty Zen about it all. The Mrs. and I are forty now, and we tend to get worked up about stuff only when forced to, or for exaggerated entertainment purposes when I am writing for my blog. I was disappointed, and I was pretty sure I wouldn't be attending the second show now, but I was dealing. The poor couple from Indiana, however, were pretty anxious. And things would get worse from here for a while.
Once we finally got in, gave them our tickets, and turned to the show, it had been running about ten minutes. And that was when we found out how it could get worse. Peabody's had oversold the event. However many seats it had (100-150), they sold at least an extra 30-50 tickets. By the time we got in, not a seat was left, and thirty or so people were standing in the back and around the bar. The only place left where we could stand, you could barely see the stage, thanks to the distance, the people standing in front of us, and some massive poles which held up the ceiling.
What is it with Cleveland and poles? I spent my whole childhood sitting behind one at Indians and Browns games.
So, now even the Schmoker veneer was cracking a tad, but I kept it in check thanks to Mrs. Schmoker. She was having fun, and that was all I really cared about. She deserved a night out, and I wasn't going to worry about it so long as she was having fun. So, we settled down and listened. We couldn't really see the guys, but that sort of made it like a regular Smodcast, only we had a roomful of people laughing with us. And Kevin and Scott were so funny that it was impossible to stay in a perturbed stated of mind when they were riffing.
And riffing they were. They did some minutes on Cleveland ("General Moses Cleveland? Did he part the Red Sea?") and on the Tour ("Tonight Scott and I sleep together on the bus for the first time."), and then they did a bit on the Tour's sponsor, Fleshlight ("Scott, will it bother you when you can hear me loving my Fleshlight in the bunk next to you tonight?"), with Kevin what-iffing a scenario where he faked an extra long Fleshlight session to mess with Scott's head while he was trapped on the bus with Kev for the drive to Duluth.
Then they settled into one of the funniest set pieces I have ever heard them do, which was based on an article Kevin had culled from the internet. I won't spoil it, but make sure and catch the first Cleveland show when they post it over on Smodcast. Scott ended the half hour run with a rant that had Kevin in tears and brought the house down.
In fact, Scott, who had previously expressed fear at the idea of doing a live show, was relaxed and hysterical throughout. He was, without a doubt, the star of the show on this night. However many beers he had consumed, it was exactly the right number.
Halfway through, I decided to make a play. I wandered over to the guys at the door and inquired about availability for the next show.
"No, it's not sold out," said the bouncer/ticket taker/Sopranos extra.
Not sold out like this show isn't sold out, I wondered? And will we have to go outside and to the back of the line again?
I was pretty sure there already was a line forming out there, and the temperature had dropped at least 20 degrees since we got inside. Plus, the back of the line would mean standing in the back of the building again if they had also oversold the second show. I wasn't going to stand in the cold for another hour or more if it meant again not being able to see the guys onstage.
Actually, I wasn't going to again stand in that cold for an hour or more even if it meant Kevin would blow me once I got inside.
Eventually I was told that, yeah, they would be clearing the club after the first show (which they blamed on "Kevin's management," which I wasn't sure I bought), but that they would make sure we were put at the front of the line when they did. The guy at the door seemed to think it was bullshit that they had oversold the show, and he obviously felt sorry for us, so I believed him when he said he'd take care of us. So I paid the freight for the next show, then sidled up to Mrs. Schmoker at the bar.
"We just got front row seats for the next show," I said.
Ahh, Kevin and Scott, you helped me get a big smile out of Mrs. Schmoker. Thanks, dude. She was really happy to hear that, even if staying for the sure-to-start-very-late second show did mean she'd only get about three to four hours of sleep before work the next morning.
Around that point, the guys were going into their closing and wrapping up the first Smod. But while the Smodcast was finished, the show wasn't over. Kev and Scott then raffled off six fleshlights, including giant models molded from porn stars, and generic gashes contained inside beer cans (Lady Lager). The latter looked too small for comfort (and ended up being so), but the former were so gigantic that it would be like jacking off with a mortar shell in your hand.
Following the raffle, they then distributed Pink Limpys. These were soft rubber penises ("You know, for the ladies.") which they lobbed into the crowd at random. The raffle itself took ten minutes and was nearly as funny as the show. And then the Limpy-lobbing turned into another form of mortar shelling, as the boys tried to go deep into the crowd. Scott ended up beaning some poor woman right in the face with a rubber dick. She went down in a heap, but only her pride was really injured. And, hey, it was funny, right?
Scott felt terrible, but we'll get to that.
After the show ended, Mrs. Schmoker and I made every effort to incite a revolution. Even though we had been promised preferential treatment, I began causally dropping the word to the two dozen or so people holding over for the next show that they were going to try and clear us all out into the freezing cold before it began. I knew that would likely mean a lot of people having to go to the back of the line, and that struck me as eminently shitty. So, I passed the word around quietly, and one by one people began to head up to the door to find out what the fuck was going on.
Like V.I. Lenin, I wanted the people to revolt against the oppressive ruling class (or at least the douches who run Peabody's), but more like Josef Stalin, I was just doing it for the fun of it.
I should mention two things:
1. I doubt Kevin Smith or Scott Mosier had any idea what was going on. Peabody's is a dump, and it was obviously being run by jag-offs who were trying to squeeze every dime they could out of Kevin's fans that night, hence the overselling, which was something Kevin and Scott likely had no way of knowing about ahead of time. Having been involved in a show or two, stuff like that is usually something completely out of the talent's hands. Kevin and Scott were responsible for the quality of the show, not the quality of the venue's owner's morals.
So, yeah, Kev and Scott probably could have tired to make themselves aware of what was happening, but Kev was likely stoned to the gils, and both Kevin and Scott had definitely just made me laugh until I needed clean underwear, so I have a hard time giving them a hard time about it all.
And hopefully they will hear about this and make sure it does not happen in the future. Clearing the joint out before the second show isn't really totalitarianism, but overselling the show so that people who had paid for seats had to stand in the back and not see anything was completely shitty. And not opening the doors in time to get everyone in before the show started was fucking bullshit.
Someone mentioned that tickets were divided into seated tickets and standing room tickets, but that was BS in this situation. Because, whether that were true or not, Mrs. Schmoker and I had paid top price on the day the show was announced. If anyone had tickets for seats, we did. But no one even looked at our tickets to see what they were for. By the time they opened the doors and finally got everyone in, the show had started, and no one was making sure who sat where. We had paid for seats, but we didn't get them.
But that policy changed a bit for the second show, as all of a sudden they were checking people's tickets a little closer.
Gee. I wonder why?
2. I didn't try and start a revolution for altruistic reasons. I had already secured our promise of front row seats before I mentioned to anyone else what was going on. And then I got the guy at the door who looked like Vito Spatafore to slip us our wristbands for the second show before I really started spreading the gospel around the bar.
I ain't no saint, is what I'm saying.
But whatever happened, it worked out. The second show didn't start until almost two hours after the first show ended, which was an hour after the printed showtime, but by then it did appear almost everyone was in, and no one was made to leave the building and get in that freezing cold line next to the Bang Bus. The revolution was successful, and I wanted to light a cigar, have a vodka, and shout, "Nostrovia!" to all and sundry.
And they did finally begin to check people's tickets in some fashion, because there was now a guy checking to see who went into the area that had all the folding chairs in front of the stage. So, if in fact there were "standing room" tickets, those people didn't get to hork the seats from them that had paid for them this time around.
In fact, the second show ended up with at least thirty empty seats, which I thought a shame of another color. People were missing out on a rousing good time.
The second show's audience wasn't as into it as the first show's. That second audience was likely peppered with people who had no idea what Smodcast was, or why there were two guys on stage talking about horse-fucking and funting (that's fish hunting) for an hour. That was because there was an 80's Night head-banging party starting up after Kevin and Scott were done---at midnight on a Tuesday---if you can believe it, and I think some people were just waiting for that to begin. And while Kevin and Scott were not quite as funny during the second show, that was only because Show #1 was an all time Smodcast classic.
But we had front row seats the second time around, so the audience and the material mattered not a whit. We had the best of both worlds. We had been able to listen to the all time classic first show, then we got to be front row and nearly center for the second. And make no mistake, the second show was laugh out loud funny, with the centerpiece being a riff the guys did on an article about a bestiality farm that had been busted in Washington state. As Scott is from Washington, it was of course implied by Kevin that this was something near and dear to Scott's heart.
The second time around, the raffle was conducted as part of the Smodcast. It began with Kevin saying they had to wrap things up because the club wanted them to get off the stage so they could start the 80's Night (which prompted an appropriate chorus of boos---for Peabody's, that is, not for Kevin). And then Kevin began the raffle, which this time around we had been able to actually enter. After the first five Fleshlights had been given away, Scott reached in and said, "Umm... Mike... umm... I don't know how to say that last name."
And that was my cue. Yes, boys and girls, old Schmoker's name got pulled out of the box. Mrs. Schmoker was beside herself laughing, and I used a folding chair to climb onto the stage and accept my free sex toy. I got the smaller Lady Lager model (pictured below), which was fine since I could not see sticking the larger artillery shell model on my penis.
I also came away with one of Scott's bottles of water, which I asked to take as I vamped for extra time onstage. Kevin gave me the nod to take it, then went on to do a few minutes about me, my Fleshlight, my new water bottle, and the experiments I might perform with them.
Finally, Kevin and Scott started tossing out another half dozen Pink Limpys again, after explaining that Scott had nearly decapitated a women with one after the first show. Scott was noticeably embarrassed about it, which just made it funnier. And the very last Limpy to be tossed was thrown, by Scott, right to none other than Mrs. Schmoker. We had braved the elements and crass capitalism, and for our troubles we were rewarded with much rejoicing and matching rubber genitalia.
It was hilarious fun, and it was a long way from the shivering line we had been standing in just five hours earlier. The night had gone from worry to trepidation to hilarity to revolution to euphoria. Had to be one of the best $120 I ever spent in my life.
A night that could have gone either way ended up being one to remember, and worth the effort in every way imaginable.
If I have one regret, it was that the young couple from Indiana did get discouraged by the cold, the line, and the way things were handled with the seating. They had planned on staying for the second show, but they were gone by the time I tried to begin the mini-insurrection.
As Mrs. Schmoker pointed out to me (in her Schwalbachian way), I had no reason to feel badly. They were adults, too. After making such a long drive, they could have checked things out on their own before deciding to head home.
She was right, of course. But they were the youngest people there, and I remember how easy it was to get discouraged when I was that age.
And they were Smodders, and I was tickled by the fact that they broke the Smodder stereotype. She had dragged him there, rather than the other way around. They got screwed out of their seats for the first show the same way we did, and it would have made the night perfect if they had managed to watch the second show from the front row with us.
But it was a great night overall, with the HIGH highs far outweighing the (now) relatively insignificant lows, and they were just a fantastic couple of shows.
Amazing what a thousand laughs and a free sex toy will do to turn your frown upside down.