I knew Kevin Smith was coming to Chicago to give a Q&A at the Chicago Theatre when he announced it several months ago. At the time I was hip-deep in a rather monstrous pair of projects at work and the waters were still rising. I declined to get tickets. This afternoon, with the most onerous sections of one of the two projects completed, and the second project’s appetite for my time at least partially satisfied, Smokes‘ invitation to go see Smith seemed positively filled with possibility.

Tickets were still available this afternoon. I consulted with Whirl. She agreed that it sounded like fun. So I bought two tickets and after work we met up with Smokes and Liz and went to see “An Evening with Kevin Smith”.

I am a fan of Kevin Smith. I’ve enjoyed his movies for many years. We’re almost exactly the same age and as such our cultural landmarks are similar. We share a passion for Star Wars. I get his jokes about Jaws. I’ve seen his college campus talks on DVD and I am an irregular listener to SModcast, his mostly regular podcast he does with his friend and producer, Scott Mosier. And for a guy who exposes most of the details of his life to the public, the largest detractor to the whole event was that many of the stories we had heard before: either in interviews, on the View Askew forums, some in books, and many of them on SModcast.

But I think that’s okay. I found him an engaging storyteller. — He’s curiously divisive, as well. Something — perhaps because I have some affection for him — I can’t quite entirely understand. I mean, he is mostly harmless. At least from where I’m standing.

People enjoy taking him down: calling him a hack, a has-been, or a no-talent boor. Oh, and he’s fat.

I guess I just have to shrug and disagree. I enjoyed tonight. I laughed a lot — and loudly. He related some poignant insights about collaboration and expectations in movie making. He told a gut-busting story about an unfortunate event in the Laser Blazer bathroom during a poker tournament. He deftly fielded a number of well-meaning if not overly reflected questions from film students. I particularly respected his maxim of “death before discourtesy” when working in the business. He told of become intoxicated by a ten-disc hockey documentary and then pleading with his wife to share his childlike enthusiasm.

These stories were intersected by impromptu unscripted moments that led me to believe he is a genuinely authentic guy with a knack for spinning a good yarn.

And that’s all right with me.