Director Kevin Smith says he nearly died of a heart attack Sunday

The acclaimed director suffered a major heart attack while filming a stand-up special in Arizona

By Matthew Rozsa

Published February 26, 2018 8:54AM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, file)
(AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, file)

America nearly lost one of its funniest and smartest directors on Sunday night.

Kevin Smith — best known for the 1994 indie hit "Clerks" and the larger Jay and Silent Bob-based "View Askewniverse" series that it spawned — suffered a major heart attack after the first of two stand-up comedy specials that he was filming in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday night.

"After the first show this evening, I had a massive heart attack," Smith wrote on Twitter. "The doctor who saved my life told me I had 100% blockage of my LAD artery (aka “the Widow-Maker”). If I hadn’t canceled show 2 to go to the hospital, I would’ve died tonight. But for now, I’m still above ground!"

It's pretty hard to overstate Smith's contributions to American cinema. "Clerks" and its sequel, 2006's "Clerks II," have aged remarkably well because of their ongoing relevance to the day-to-day experiences of jaded suburban male youths: The immersion in popular culture, the sex-obsessed-yet-sexually-frustrated banter, the soul-crushing sense of economic disempowerment that comes with working in menial customer service jobs. He has also made movies that offer sharp, witty insights into relationships ("Chasing Amy"), religion ("Dogma") and Hollywood banality ("Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back").

Even though Smith's current work tends to be maligned rather than praised, it is (in this author's admittedly unpopular opinion) easily the equal of his earlier material. "Red State" was a mercilessly brutal look at the violence that curdles beneath the surface of anti-gay political movements in America, "Tusk" was a thoroughly original take on body horror that seems bound to become a cult classic (if it isn't already one) and "Yoga Hosers" was a refreshingly silly horror comedy that included breakout performances from Smith's daughter Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of Smith's friend Johnny Depp. You can love or hate Smith's mid-period films, but you can't say that it hasn't retained the same witty dialogue, sharp characterization and distinctively offbeat sense of humor that characterized his earlier work.

In other words, there are a lot of film fanatics out there who probably feel exactly the same way as Chris Pratt when he tweeted his thoughts about Smith's heart attack.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Jay And Silent Bob Kevin Smith View Askew