Clerks turns 20 today, and I wrote a bit about how it has impacted my career in the entertainment press.
The short version: I liked the movie a lot. I saw it a bunch of times and wrote up a "here's all the in-jokes" story for Wizard magazine, where I was interning and freelancing when Dogma came out. It never got printed, so back in 2001, I ran it on a private website. View Askew's website linked to that site (which no longer exists), and so this list was as officially-sanctioned as you could get for a while.
Now, I'm offering this up untouched, except to format titles and paragraphs. So please excuse the 14-year-old writing style and read it for the artifact it is. And feel free to chime in at the end to let me know what isn't accounted for.
Here are, as best as the 20-year-old me could reckon, all the things in Clerks that paid off as jokes in future Askewniverse films:
- Dante's reference to having closed the store the night before is backed up by his statement in Oni Double Feature #1: "I don't work Saturday, though...because I'm closing Friday night."
- “Playing hockey at 2" is the first of many references to hockey in the Askewniverse; it would not only play a key role in Clerks, but also the other films and comic books in the series.
- The locks on the store's shutters were jammed with gum in the film, preventing Dante from opening them. In reality? They filmed most of the picture at night, because the convenience store couldn't remain closed for long enough to shoot an entire movie there.
- While in Clerks, the RST Video and Quick Stop Groceries storefronts are almost entirely devoid of advertising, their cameo in Chasing Amy shows them as they are when nobody’s filming there: plastered with promotional material.
- The Asbury Park Press, the real-life local paper which Dante quasi-steals at the opening of Clerks, is one of the papers that Holden and Banky are written about in the opening credits of Chasing Amy.
- Most cigarette company logos are obscured in Clerks to prevent View Askew getting flak from the “Nazis of the ‘90s” comments made during the Chewlee’s rep’s tirade...but later View Askew managed to avoid this problem by creating their own brand of cigarettes: Nails.
- The cancer-ridden lung produced by the Chewlee’s gum representative isn’t actually a lung–it’s a liver, bought at a local grocery store during production.
- The second smoker the Chewlee’s Gum representative talks to–who ultimately is the one to buy cigarettes after the scene is broken up–is played by Walt Flanagan, a friend of Kevin’s from high school and a View Askew regular. He played many roles in this movie.
- When the mob starts hassling Dante about being a "cancer merchant," and throwing cigarettes at him, they are stopped by Veronica, who shoots the crowd with a fire extinguisher, causing them all to stop what they're saying/doing, sputter, cough, and disperse. Bethany Sloan used much the same tactic to shut up the Metatron in her bedroom (who, in all fairness, made a fiery entrance and she believed was ablaze in her room) in Dogma.
- The first reference to Veronica's schooling always invokes a little chuckle from many die-hard View Askew fans who know that in the footage cut from Mallrats, Brandi Svenning refers to her roommate at school as "Ronnie," the same thing Willam Black later calls Veronica.
- The Sylvan who arises in conversations several times when Veronica is on-camera may well be Sylvan Derris, the porn star who gives great head according to the Jay and Silent Bob: Chasing Dogma miniseries. Sylvan Derris is, in all likelihood, somehow related to Rick Derris.
- Willam Black--"Snowball"--made his first appearance in Clerks but also appeared in Mallrats, preoccupied with the sailboat in a Magic Eye. He may have been the fan in Chasing Amy who, clothed similarly to the way Willam was in Mallrats, harassed the creators of Bluntman and Chronic. One customer who comes to the counter while Dante and Veronica are arguing about her sexual past buys Vaseline and rubber gloves. The other gets Huggies–one of the few paid endorsements in the Jersey Series.
- In addition to being the number of guys Veronica has gone down on, "37" was the name of an independent comic book by Chasing Amy's Holden McNeil and Banky Edwards. In an interview which flashed across the screen during the opening credits, Holden and Banky talked about the shellshocked guidance counselor who would seek out the perfect carton of eggs at the grocery store where they used to work.
- Wynarski, the irate renter who comes to Quick Stop to complain that Randal is late for work, is also the name of the skee-ball joint where John Doe Jersey spends his spare time in Dogma.
- “No time for love, Dr. Jones” is a classic reference to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom–and the first time that a Lucasfilm movie is referred to in Kevin Smith’s movies.
- Randal comes into the store and says “What are you doing here? I thought you were playing hockey at one.” Dante confirms it, though throughout the film everyone else says that the hockey game started at two o’clock.
- “I believe in the philosophy of a ruling class -– especially since I rule,” which Randal says in his first full scene with Dante, is the basis for a very similar statement on the View Askew Productions company answering machine.
- Dave’s Fruit Pies is the David Klein-oriented fictional brand of snack cakes that were created over a Hostess logo on display in the Quick Stop Groceries for the movie’s purposes.
- “People say crazy sh-- during sex,” Randal tells Dante–and they certainly do! According to the Mallrats book, Tricia Jones slept with Randal as research for her book...and he called her “Dante” while in the sack.
- Caitlin Bree’s name is a nod to Caitlin, a character from DeGrassi Junior High, a Canadian teen soap opera.
- Dante claims Caitlin Bree cheated on him 8 ½ times during high school...but does she know that, according to Alyssa Jones in Chasing Amy, one of those affairs was a homosexual one? And is that a Fellini reference?
- Silent Bob has a thing for foreigners; his heavy metal cousin, Olaf, is a Russian while his ex- girlfriend, Amy (mentioned in Chasing Amy), is from Canada.
- When the people show up at the video store looking for Happy Scrappy Hero Pup only to be treated to a string of porn titles, Randal Graves apparently reaped some kind of consequences not caught on camera--a later Clerks comic book saw Randal answer the question of whether RST sells videos with "Yeah--anything but the Happy Scrappy titles; we had a problem with that once."
- Dante is right; Empire is better than Jedi. And to boot, the whole Star Wars scene was reprinted in Movieline shortly before the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
- “Luke blew it up,” Dante says of the first Death Star. “Give credit where credit’s due.” This jives with what he later says to Caitlin about why he wants to get the credit he deserves for breaking up her relationship with Asian Design Major Sang.
- The roofer who comes into Dante and Randal’s conversation–representing Dunn and Reddy improvement–probably didn’t realize at the time that his company’s offices are listed right below Bank Holdup Studios on a building directory in a downtown Red Bank building. Dunn and Reddy share a building with Chasing Amy’s Banky Edwards and Holden McNeil!
- As they talk with the contractor, Jay shoplifts and eats candy–much the same way he does in Mallrats when asking Brodie who beat him up.
- In an interview which flashed across the screen during the opening credits of Chasing Amy, Holden and Banky talked about the shellshocked guidance counselor who would seek out the perfect carton of eggs at the grocery store where they used to work. Maybe it’s the same guy who shows up at Quick Stop, played by Walt Flanagan–or maybe Banky is the stock boy who explained the phenomenon to the verbose female customer.
- The woman who explains the concept of "shellshock," and then goes on to tell the clerks that she manually masturbates encaged animals for artificial insemination, is played by Kevin Smith’s sister.
- The offended customer who runs out after being sickened by Randal’s porn–also played by Walt Flanagan–is buying Windex and paper towels, which goes nicely with Randal’s statement that “cum leaves streaks if you don’t clean it right away.”
- The “milk maid” who so frustrates Dante is actually played by Kevin Smith’s mother.
- According to Kevin Smith, Navy SEALs was chosen to represent intellectually-devoid films because it was the best-renting flick in RST’s history.
- When Veronica jokes she’s brought Dante “peanut butter and jelly with the crust cut off,” it’s probably a subtle reference to The Breakfast Club, where that was Brian Johnson’s lunch.
- While the clerks are playing hockey on the roof, Scott Mosier shows up as the Angry Hockey Guy to dissuade them from leaving the store closed--and yells at Willam Black (among others). Willam is played by Mosier--so this interchange constitutes what Smith called "the only special effect in Clerks." After being yelled at, Willam freezes for a moment, and then makes a beeline in one direction--in cut footage that portrayed Jay selling smoke to hockey players from the roof's edge, Snowball would have been heading straight for the amiable dirt-merchant.