“Get out your Scantrons and number two pencils!” boomed Greg Grunberg.
“Chief lesson here today ladies and gentlemen is how to get very far in this business without any talent” chimed in Kevin Smith.
The director, and actor — both renowned pop culture geeks — were amped to talk to the press, and fans at San Diego Comic Con this weekend. Maybe it was because their new show Geeking Out is set to premiere on AMC tonight, or maybe it was because they walked into the interview straight from filming content for the premiere tonight on AMC.
No, that’s not a typo. The duo’s show filmed a special Comic Con-related premiere which airs tonight at 10 p.m. EST. The show was filmed during the first first days of the comic, and was edited on the fly, and shipped off to AMC. The series will then go on a brief hiatus, and will begin their full season run as they will be following the second half of Fear the Walking Dead’s sophomore season.
Below pieces of the lengthy, and awesome panel interview Grunberg and Smith gave the press corps at San Diego Comic Con.
Kevin Smith and Greg Grunberg on the evolution of the series:
Smith: I came into this show later. Greg and Brad [Savage] came up with the show. Once it came to AMC I got involved because it sounded like a show I’d watch in a heartbeat. The idea was to do SportsCenter for those of us who don’t necessarily watch sports. It’s a news magazine show with great pieces. We’ve worked in the business a while, and we know people so we get cool access to stuff [outside of] the typical junket interview.
Grunberg: The original idea was to have a peer-to-peer discussion instead of a sound bite on a red carpet. Let’s talk with people we’ve worked with before…and you usually run of those friends very quickly. [However], Kevin and I have been doing this for so long that we’ve worked with or crossed paths with some of the most incredible creators — actors, producers, writers, comic artists [etc.] When Kevin came on board, [I said] ‘What are you kidding me?’ He’s an executive producer for this show, and he’s been very humble — he’s making this show, I’m along for the ride. This is not a job. I get to hang out with Kevin Smith for 10 hours everyday? Uh, hello? It’s like eating donuts everyday, it’s almost that good.”
Smith: And that’s what we pretty much do all day. Donuts all day to maintain these physiques.
Question #1: In one of the mentions of the show you talk about being hibernating fan-bears. What caused these hibernating fan bears to wake up?
Smith: Luckily, somebody agreed that their should be a show. AMC, as we all know, is the risk-taking-est network alive right now. They changed he game when they did shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and of course, The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman enabled me to have a show here. I tried television once years ago with Clerks: The Cartoon. We made six and they aired two. So it felt like me and TV, even though TV raised me, I’d never have a home there. [Now] TV’s changed dramatically. Thanks to the advent of AMC, I have a chance. Robert Kirkman’s show (The Walking Dead) took off and (laughs) after the first season of The Walking Dead there was an internal discussion about a fear that the audience that populated the ratings of the first season would not come back if they had to go off and create season two. So they said, ‘Fuck, we’re going to create Season 2 and all that audience might go away. What do we do to keep that audience sticking around until [then]?”
This always makes me laugh because there was a time in this world when someone thought ‘What if nobody watches The Walking Dead?” And because of that I got through a very narrow crack. They were looking for what was called “geek programming.” A friend of mine Elyse Seiden, who’s a producer on Comic Book Men and who worked with me on Red State, she knew this guy who ran Original Media — which [now] produces Comic Book Men. Suddenly I was in business with AMc. What about Pawn Stars in a comic book store? And that happened.
Thanks to being at AMC, we’re going into Season 6. When [Geeking Out] popped up they came to me and said, “You like this shit, right?” And I said, “Fuck, I love shit.” (laughs).
Grunberg: AMC without question is the home, the only for this show.
The audience is ready for this. When you [Kevin Smith] first came to Comic Con the audience was a lot smaller. I always do this parent proof thing. My dad is 82 – he knows about this culture now, and he appreciates it. He watches this stuff, and he has questions that go beyond the episode. He cares about these characters. Is he a geek? I don’t know (laughs). But he’s the dad of a geek. It’s a right time for this show, and the audience is big enough so I think it doesn’t have to be [connected] to the show that proceeded [like The Talking Dead]. We’re talking about all sorts of stuff. We’ve got Matt Damon on the show. We’ve got J.J. Abrams on the show. And then we’ve got Matt Damon on the show. And JJ Abrams on the show. (laughs)
Smith: As you can see we fucking exhausted our address book in the first episode. We don’t know what we’re going to do for Episode 2. That’s the episode we’ll reach out to the people who’ve hated us. That is a long fucking list.
Question #2: Kevin, you’re known for working blue. Is hard to work within AMC, and not using your whole vocabulary?
Smith: There was a challenge early on in my career, when it came to TV interviews, that you have to play the ball where it lays. You can’t say, “These motherfuckers don’t understand cum” on TV. No, none of that works.
Grunberg: In the pilot when Kevin’s talking we have someone on set who pushes a button every time [he curses] and bleeps it out. [Grunberg starts mimicking rapid fire button pushing via audio]. No, they’re using all of it, and they’re bleeping it out.
Our interviews are not traditional interviews. You can see it on the faces of the people. Charlie Hunnam– we just interviewed him, and halfway through you can see on his face that he’s thinking [in a British accent] “Oh this is a real conversation we’re having. This is wonderful.” He’s really articulate. He knows film history, and is smart. This goes beyond, ‘I’m starring in a movie’ and goes to ‘Here’s what I’m geeking out about.’ And that’s amazing.
Thanks to being at AMC, we’re going into Season 6. When [Geeking Out] popped up they came to me and said, “You like this shit, right?” And I said, “Fuck, I love shit. –Kevin Smith”
Smith: But yes, I’ve learned to stop cursing on television. In five years of Comic Book Men I’ve had training.AMC lets you get away with a lot of shit. I mean you can say [the word] shit. I watched The Walking Dead and when they break a taboo, I always say “There’s one we can get away with.” Then when we put our edit forward and they say, “You can’t say that!” I ‘ll respond and say “They said that on the fucking Walking Dead while stabbing someone to death!”
Grunberg: It’s that why you called me a nipple the other day while we were shooting?
KS: (laughs hysterically) Yes.
Question #3: Who are “white whales” you want to interview for this show?
Smith: It’s going to sound embarrassing but I’m going to say Ben Affleck at this point. I could’ve put that together pretty easily a few years ago, not so much now. Him, or Steven Spielberg — I think I’m ready now. The man’s a genius, he reinvented cinema. He’s a true master [storyteller]. The reason we geek out over stuff is what he’s made in his entire career. I would love to find out what he geeks out about.
Grunberg: My white whale would be Tom Hanks or Harrison Ford. I’ve worked with both guys, and have talked with them but not as in-depth as I’d want. But [there’s been] conversations where I’m sitting at dinner and Harrison’s talking and I’m thinking “what a conversation!” Those are the conversations we want to share with everyone. I think people are comfortable enough with us, and this is a show where we’re going to find out feet. The Comic Con special turned out great. We literally came from an interview 10 minutes ago that is going to air [tonight]. These conversations are unique — they’re unique to the backdoors, to the pubs, the restaurants. That’s the kind of conversations we want to bring to the screen. This isn’t like Entertainment Tonight, or Extra.
Question #4: Kevin, will you have your co-hosts from the Smodcast Network appearing on the show?
Smith: That is my absolute hope. I remember when they announced the show, and a lot of people thought it sounded swell. But, I always gravitate towards the negative. There was somebody that said, “Great two more white guys talking about pop culture.” (laughs). I was like “shit.” I knew we had to diversify and bring in a plethora of people. This isn’t about dudes, and not just about white dudes — this about everybody. Everybody loves this shit. So we brought on Tiffany Smith, who I’ve been on a lot of shows with like DC Access. We love her, so boom let’s have her on, and we’ve got a female perspective. She has access to shit we don’t have. [The cast of] Suicide Squad is impossible to get. They come out, do the queen’s wave, and off they go. I was like “I’m Silent Bob I’m going to get what I want.” They came back and said “Yeah, Kevin we love you…but no.” Tiffany works for DC All Access, and she’s going to talk to them. She’s got more juice than Kevin Smith!
Question #5: [To Grunberg] one of the reasons you said you wanted to work with Kevin Smith is that he smelled good. So, what does he smell like.
Grunberg: (laughs) That’s my job on the show — make fart jokes, and tell Kevin he smells good. Kevin smells like weed, and I like a little weed now and again. It’s a smell that permeates the studio, and we’re all happy.
Smith: Yeah, I have a little Pig Pen cloud that follows me around.
Catch Greg Grunberg and Kevin Smith on the Geeking Out Comic Con Special tonight on AMC.
Interview conducted by Alfred Mannarino and Ryan DeMarco. Transcribed by Bill Bodkin