Kai hits the big, um, small screen as Netflix documentary about Fresno hitchhiker sets debut date

Netflix hopes a new movie about Fresno’s most famous hitchhiker will be a “”Smash, Smash, SUH-MASH.” Remember Kai? He’s back.


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If you’re too young to remember — or just blocked it out of your mind —  here’s a recap. Kai, aka Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, was the subject of a 2013 viral video shot by KMPH Channel 26. The short version is that Kai was picked up hitchhiking by a big man (300 pounds) who said he was Jesus Christ (OK, so this isn’t short but you see how it’s the details that really add the sizzle to this story), and then they hit a Fresno pedestrian with their car, and then the big guy (who was named Jett Simmons McBride and told Kai he’d once raped a 14-year-old girl in the Virgin Islands) got out of the car to attack a passing good Samaritan, and that’s when Kai grabbed a hatchet from his backpack and attacked Mr. McBride, shouting the short-lived buzzphrase “Smash, Smash, Suh-Mash!”

At least that’s what Wikipedia says. Even though I helped cover the story, I’d forgotten most of the details. All I remember is my Fresno Bee colleagues Mike Osegueda, and Joshua Tehee and I scrambling to write a bunch of slightly snarky stories. The video went viral, of course.

Oh, and then we learned later that Kai was accused of murder, so things turned more serious.

No wonder Netflix bit!


I was tracked down by a producer of the documentary a few years ago and gave my fuzzy recollections. Maybe I’ll get a “special thanks” credit at the end?

Any Kai watch parties planned?

A hat tip on this to Stephen Mintz, loyal TMR supporter and a Fresno location scout for the film.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Kristal Smith

    I don’t really remember this story…interesting. Thank you for the update!


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