Last night I joined four friendos (HE’s own Svetlana Cvetko, David Scott Smith, Russian filmmaker Nick Sarkisov and Svet’s visiting niece, Natasha Radisic) for a visit to WeHo’s Improv Cafe, which I hadn’t been to in 22 or 23 years. ($25 a person plus drinks.) The show wasn’t the usual standup stuff but Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman‘s Hollywood Babble-0n, a sitting-down-and shooting-the-shit routine that they perform with some regularity. Agreeable, good-natured, occasional hilarious.

Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman during one of their “Hollywood Babble-on” Improv routines.

(l. to r.) HE homies Natasha Radisic, Svetlana Cvetko, Nick Sarkisov, David Scott Smith.

HE regulars know that for two years (8.02 to 8.04) I wrote a twice-weekly version of the column for Smith’s Movie Poop Shoot site. He paid me a modest salary. I never liked writing for a site with the word “poop” in the URL but I sucked it in and did the job.

I was hanging in Paris in June of ’04 when Kevin called to inform that he had to cut me loose. He said I’d be paid one final month’s salary, covering July. I knew then and there I had to launch and operate HE on my own. I’d have to learn HTML coding and figure out how to sell advertising, but the internet economy was starting to bounce back and I knew it could work.

But I needed more than a month to get things rolling so I called Kevin a week later and asked for an extra month’s salary. And without blinking an eye he said “okay.” That gave me the necessary time to learn what I had to learn and attend to the dozens upon dozens of details that any start-up requires. I’ve never forgotten Smith’s generosity. Let no one say in my presence that he’s not a mensch. From one New Jersey guy to another…cheers.

I was a fan of Kevin’s directing for the first seven years (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). I started to disengage after Jersey Girl (’04), I came back a bit for Clerks II (’06) and Zack and Miri Make a Porno (’08). I didn’t like Cop Out or Red State, and I paid no attention to Tusk, Holidays (a horror-comedy anthology that he did a short for) and Yoga Hosers. But he’s obviously quite the enterpriser with his various podcasts, TV writing and directing, occasional acting and his constant touring.

Sometime in late ’12 Smith told an interviewer he was thinking about not making any more feature films. A day or two later I wrote him the following:

“You can’t not work in films, man. And even if you think (i.e., firmly believe) you don’t want to work in films, never say never. To anything. I don’t care (and you shouldn’t either) how happy filmmaking makes you or doesn’t make you. Like it or not, you are here on the planet to do what you can do to brighten or enrichen or at least decorate the world as best you can. I presume you’re going to focus on TV and online efforts plus the usual speaking tours, but you’ll remember how years ago I said you have a major work in you — a Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff for the slacker generation. And I still believe this. Im thinking of a balls-out whiplash-dialogue thing with few if any laughs. You’ve been married long enough — you know all about it. You have to write & direct this, Kevin. I know you have it in you.”