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Published March 05 2012

Jason Mewes talks about show with 'Silent Bob'

FARGO – The slackers have grown up.

Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith – otherwise known as Jay and Silent Bob from Smith’s various slacker-centric films – are bringing their iconic, off-color characters to the Fargo Theatre tonight, kicking off this week’s Fargo Film Festival.

Stars of films like “Clerks,” “Mallrats” and many more, the duo has lately shifted to a different medium with their popular podcast series called “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old.” In these podcasts, the two New Jersey men reminisce on their characters and their real-life friendship. The two will also use tonight’s appearance as an opportunity to record another edition of their podcast.

Though Kevin Smith was busy living the life of a Hollywood filmmaker, we reached Jason Mewes last week on his cellphone at his house in California, where he was “getting ready to eat some grub and watch ‘Murder She Wrote.’ ” He was also a bit worried about the winter weather that could hit Fargo.

It’s hardly the routine his fans might expect from the guy who played a foul-mouthed, anti-authority, drug dealer in several of Smith’s movies.

And they’d have good reason to suspect Mewes’ popular character reflected his own life.

In 1994’s “Clerks,” the first movie featuring Jay, played by Mewes, and Silent Bob, played by Smith, Mewes says his character was pretty similar to what he actually was like in real life – crude and obnoxious.

“I used to be exactly like that character,” Mewes says. “Now I’m 50/50 that character. I’m older now. Now I don’t want to offend or upset anyone.”

Smith, on the other hand, was never all that similar to Silent Bob, Mewes says.

“He’s not like the character,” Mewes says. “He’s very chatty. He talks more than I do.”

Jay and Silent Bob’s friendship throughout all the films, though, is very real and reflects the relationship that Smith and Mewes have in real life.

“I think the dynamic of the two characters is our dynamic,” Mewes says. “The way they hang out all the time, busting each other’s chops is really sort of our relationship.”

That friendship is the heart of a program tonight that Mewes says is basically just the two friends talking about their lives and the work that they’ve done together.

“I haven’t figured out the perfect way to describe (‘Jay and Silent Bob Get Old’),” Mewes says. “Technically, it’s two guys talking, but it’s a lot more entertaining than that.”

The two also try to bring a visual element to the show, Mewes says, which helps to illustrate anecdotes that are, in the nature of the movies, a little too crude to mention on the pages of The Forum.

In the last part of the show, Mewes and Smith like to get the audience involved, usually through some sort of improv comedy-related games.

Though they certainly try to make their audiences laugh using the same kind of humor they used in the movies, the duo’s not afraid to touch on serious topics either.

One of these topics that are a common theme in the podcasts is Mewes’ fight against drug addiction, which he and Smith will likely discuss at some point tonight.

Now that he’s several years removed from addictions to heroin and prescription painkillers, Mewes says he can laugh about his experiences, and present them in a way that makes other people laugh, too – like the Christmas Eve when he accidentally set his couch on fire while he was high.

“But at the same time, I can say, thinking about that and talking about it, I never want to be there again,” he says.

Talking about his experiences also helps Mewes stay sober, calling the people who listen to and come to the show a “support system.”

And what he finds especially satisfying is when he gets approached by a fan after a show who tells Mewes how a friend or family member has been inspired to stay sober after listening to the podcast.

“It helps me to know that it’s helping even one or two people out there,” Mewes says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535