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Bunch of savages in this town

The story of Clerks has had a positive influence on me. The movie taught me the importance of dialog in stories, especially film and comedy. If it wasn’t for Clerks, I wouldn’t appreciate a lot of the stories I enjoy today. Clerks taught me a lot about the value of comedic timing, acting and film writing.

Clerks has a simple storyline. Dante, a clerk at Quick Stop, the neighborhood’s convenient store, is called in to work on his day off to fill in for a colleague who can’t make it. The story chronicles his day at the store and the interesting people who pass through it. Most of the story is told through conversations between Dante and his best friend, Randall, a clerk from the video store next door.

While the movie has a typical structure, it is told in an interesting manner – the scenes are separated by retro-style title cards and except for the beginning and the end, they can be watched in pretty much any order. The value of the movie is in the lines excellently delivered by the cast, who do an amazing job at keeping a straight face while speaking them. There are countless notable quotes from the movie, as any fan of the movie can tell you.

Other interesting things about the movie: it is shot in black and white, numerous characters from Kevin Smith’s other movies make cameo appearances, including Jay and Silent Bob, and it spawned a sequel (Clerks 2) with one more on the way.

Each time I watch it, I never fail to laugh. The movie’s side-splitting dialog remains funny despite it not being new to me anymore – I have watched it at least once a year since I first discovered it.

Why do I find the dialog in this movie so great? Well, firstly, the dialog is realistic despite the absurd topics they bring up because it reminds me of the conversations I have with my friends. It is also very funny. In no other movie will you be able to find the line ‘My love for you is like a truck, berserker/ would you like some making fuck? Berserker!’ or conversations about how many times a significant other has had oral sex in the past ‘Hey, try not to suck any dick on the way through the parking lot!’.

Let’s not forget the discussion about the risks the contractors of the Death Star knew about before signing on to rebuild it or Dante unknowingly selling cigarettes to a little girl. I like how Kevin Smith pulls no punches and goes all out when it comes to writing lines for his characters.

The movie Clerks also taught me that it’s possible to tell jokes without resorting to slapstick. Even a line as straightforward as ‘Bunch of savages in this town’ can be funny. It’s all in the delivery.

Sure, there are plenty of movies out there with funny lines, but not many of them have been executed this well. It’s like Kevin Smith just said ‘Fuck it’ and wrote down whatever he felt like. I’m not sure if it was what he intended, but Clerks has taught me to care less about what people thought of my writing and to write what I want to say instead.

While I’m still far from a comedic genius, watching Clerks has had a positive influence on my writing and has changed the way I approach penning down funny thoughts in my stories. Maybe one day I’ll write a story as funny as what Kevin Smith wrote for Clerks (it won’t be anytime soon) but until then, I’ll keep on trying.

What story, from literature or film, has had a positive influence on you? Choose any story from a book, play, poem, film, or television show. Write an explanatory essay in which you tell us the background of the story and explain what influence it has had. Support your ideas with examples from your own experience, observations, and/or reading. If you quote from readings, be sure you include your sources correctly and use a bibliography.

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