Bobcat Goldthwait

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 8:26 pm    Post subject: Bobcat Goldthwait Reply with quote

Bobcat Goldthwait: The anti comedian
Emma Kat Richardson
August 28, 2009

You know Bobcat Goldthwait as a comedian and an integral part of your Police Academy movie watching enjoyment. What you might not know are the movies he writes and directs. With his new dark comedy Worldís Greatest Dad, starring Robin Williams, youíve got a good excuse to change that.

Bobcat Goldthwait does not like stand-up. Itís a surprising admission for one of most seminal staples of Americaís landmark 1980s stand-up club scene, but frankly, he seems more or less just plain sick and tired of it. After all, isnít there only so many times one can expect to reprise a role in the Police Academy movies and still find the work fresh and funny?

These days, itís mostly about movie making for the man called Bobcat, even though the occasional comedy club appearance does seem to rear its hilarious head every now and then. With his latest cinematic effort, his movie Worldís Greatest Dad (premiered Aug. 21), which stars Robin Williams as a high school poetry teacher who yearns to be famous Ė Goldthwait wrote, directed, and cameos briefly in the film Ė and even a few comedy dates being sprinkled around the country, stand-up comedyís favorite prodigal son checks in with Punchline Magazine to talk filmmaking 101, being a nostalgia act, and why heís not a hot chick by the pool.

Why do you not like stand-up comedy?
If you, as a little boy, had an interest in magic, and then became a magician, after a while, once you know how the tricks work, itís kind of boring. I donít want to watch stand-up; I just donít. Most comedians worship stand-up comedy, and are bitter about how someone else is doing better than them. Theyíre all sitting at home, trying to write the perfect Obama joke, or some kind of bullshit like that, and I just donít really care about it. Even in my early stand-up, I was just trying to make fun of stand-up comedians, and then I became one. For a night out, I would much rather go see a movie or a band. Comedians take comedy so seriously, that theyíre really not enjoyable to be around. For me, watching stand-up would be like my old man going to watch guys working with sheet metal.

So your priorities now lie more as a filmmaker?
Well, I like making movies and I hope I can continue to do it. Itís funny because recently, Iíve actually started to enjoy doing stand-up again for the first time in about 20 years. I get nervous before going onstage now for the first time.

Letís talk about Worldís Greatest Dad a little bit. Where did the idea for the story come from?
The characters in that movie are all just based on people I know. About a day into making the movie, Robin said to me, ĎOh, Iím playing you, arenít I?í and I was like, ĎYeah, kinda.í

So the film is autobiographical?
Well, the way the events play out and the way Robin does things and reacts to things - yeah, thatís autobiographical. My movies are kind of more personal than my stand-up was.

Do you prefer directing or acting in films?
I donít like acting. Iím not a very good actor. Iím not like the hot chick whoís standing by the pool in a t-shirt. I really know Iím not a very good actor, and would much rather be behind the camera, directing. I make a cameo in this movie, but only because Guillermo Rodriguez from the Jimmy Kimmel show couldnít get the day off to play the part.

So it was a cameo out of necessity?
Itís a cameo where it was uncomfortable, and definitely out of necessity. Itís not even that strange, because in the movie theyíre supposed to be in LA, and I donít think itís that much of a stretch for the guy from Police Academy to be the limo driver.

What do you want fans of your stand-up to take away from a movie like this?
I donít know if theyíre one in the same, you know? I donít think that those who come see me do stand-up are aware that I write and direct movies. Thatís ok; I donít expect them to be. At this point in my life, stand-up and films never criss-cross; Iíll go out and do stand-up on the road, and Iíll have a couple people go, ĎOh, I saw that movie you made,í but for the most part, people arenít aware. Iíve been a nostalgia act up until recently. I was like Whitesnake or Poison.

Are you playing at the county fairs and stuff?
Definitely playing at the county fairs! I was playing once with REO Speedwagon, and Iím laughing to myself thinking, oh my god, thatís REO Speedwagon, theyíre probably thinking Iím Gilbert Gottfried or something.

Since you said that youíve recently started doing stand-up again, where have you looked for fresh material?
Well, one factor is not having a comic persona. So you can get in a room where you tell stories, and theyíre framed differently from when I had a comic persona to hide behind. Itís funny; thatís such a crutch. People came up to see you, expecting you to do your persona, and you had to think or work hard to maintain it, but now itís like Iím back to where I was 20 years ago, and I have an idea, jot it down, go onstage, and try to work on it a little.

What sort of reaction are you expecting from audiences that go to see Worldís Greatest Dad?
So far, the reaction has been pretty nice. Folks are saying that they like the movie. When it was at Sundance, it was really nice to see people laughing and stuff at the movie, but it was more exciting for me when people would walk out and get into these big arguments and conversations about honesty and stuff. Thatís the theme of this movie.

You and Robin Williams have a longstanding comedic partnership. Did that relationship help influence the film creatively in any way?
Yeah. As far as the way we went about approaching the way we were going to work. The night before we went to get started, everyone was freaking out, like, ĎIs Robin going to work well with the director, or is he going to be like ĎHey man, I have an Academy Award and you have Police Academy.í [Laughs]. But that wasnít the situation. With Robin, itís like you do a take, and he does a take. We were on the same page, and we discussed everything a lot before we shot any of it. I definitely wanted his input and ideas and stuff, and I got that from everybody in the movie. I didnít write the lead part with Robin in mind; he read the script and he was going to do a cameo to help me out, but then he called me and said, ĎYou know, Iíd actually like to be the guy.í

Do you think youíll be making more movies together in the future?
Yeah. While we were in the middle of filming, he was like, ĎI want to be in all your movies.í You know, there are a lot of heavy scenes in this movie and it was quite exhausting. The way I make movies, itís outside the studio system, so thereís nothing fancy about it. I was really happy when he said that.

When you sit down to write out the script for a movie, what creative well do you draw from for material? Is it the same one you used for writing jokes when you were doing stand-up, or does it come from a completely different world?
No, I think itís the same kind of thing; you know, when youíre writing comedy, you take notes all day long and you think of things and just jot them down. Itís the same way with screenplay writing. I have ideas and I jot them down, but the only difference with writing a screenplay is that Iíll go away and go to a hotel or something for three, four, or five nights, and Iíll write and write until the screenplayís finished.

Whatís your single favorite moment from your career so far?
Thatís a good question. Iím pretty lucky, you know? I would have to say that one of my favorite memories from my career happened during the first movie I had at Sundance: I was sitting with my daughter, and this woman wanted to get up and walk out because she thought it was supposed to be a romantic comedy, but there was a scene of bestiality. This woman was trying to leave, and I was trying to talk her into staying, and about an hour into the movie, that same woman was crying, and my daughter was like, ĎLook at your friend now.í This woman was crying because she was moved by the movie, and my daughter was like, ĎYeah, you cry, bitch. You cry.í Thatís one of my fond memories.

When I used to go out and do stand-up, I used to joke about it being the alimony tour, but Iím really excited now that Iím writing again. I know there are people who are disappointed when I show up and Iím not doing the Grover voice, but I canít. I have to store those characters now.

Would you say youíre in a new period for your career, like a transitional period?
Yeah. At the end of the day, Iíve got to think that Iíve got a hopeful career in directing, and I wanted to get out of stand-up. I never thought that the career directing would actually give me the balls to bring my stand-up act back, or that I would even be interested in it. Now, I really enjoy going out there.

For more info on Bobcat, check out his official site at
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He was on Jimmy Kimmel the other day with Robin Williams...
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bobcat has tamed his growl but still feasts on the bizarre
Screaming comedian of '80s refines his standup persona
By Ben Gelinas,
Edmonton Journal

Last Sunday, comedian Bobcat Goldthwait holed himself up in a Fantasyland Hotel room and hasn't really come out. The legend of free-form standup, waiting for a turn onstage at The Comic Strip this week, has found writer's refuge in the room, where he's hammering out a new screenplay about a spree killer. The first victim is a bratty rich kid from MTV's My Super Sweet Sixteen.

Still remembered for a wailing, wild persona he created 30 years ago, Goldthwait has since retired the bit that made him famous. He's a filmmaker now. Seriously. Goldthwait has three feature films to his credit, including last year's critically lauded dark comedy World's Greatest Dad, starring longtime friend Robin Williams. Usually he's got a couple of screenplays going at once. Goldthwait's pockets are full of random notes scribbled on loose paper. "I do standup so I don't have to do reality shows," he jokes.

But the truth is, for the first time in a long time, Goldthwait enjoys getting up in front of people and making them laugh. At the height of his fame, this wasn't always the case. When he stood onstage in the '80s and '90s, he had a way of looking like he was ready to gnaw the mike off its cord. He ticked and yelled and growled, a slightly less mentally unbalanced Phil Collins doing his best coked-out Grover impression.

"The persona really came out of me trying to hide up there," he says. "And it was also really kind of making fun of comedy at the same time. So it really backfired. This character was somebody who really shouldn't be onstage. I was making fun of standup comedy. And then I started getting hired as a headliner. I had to become a comedian. I actually became the very thing I was making fun of."

Now 48, Goldthwait has been a fool for laughs since grade school. He remembers being six years old and acting like a kid with some serious mental-health issues for shock value for neighbours, even in public. It got to the point where, in line at a supermarket one day, a sympathetic woman working behind the counter, so sure she was in the presence of a truly special little boy, said to Goldthwait's mother: "God bless you." Goldthwait remembers getting into the car in the supermarket lot and just how angry his mother was at his antics. He laughs thinking about it.

Mrs. Goldthwait was a funny woman, but she wasn't a clown. Her wit came dry. It was Goldthwait's father who passed on the silly gene. He was the kind of father who would climb on top of the fridge and threaten to dive into an opened jar of mayo. Goldthwait's friends didn't help cultivate any stoicism in him. He grew up in upstate New York with Tom Kenny, another crazy kid who would go on to create the manic SpongeBob SquarePants. Goldthwait, whose real first name is Robert, got his stage name in this era. He and Tom went to school with a boy named Barry, who called himself Bearcat. To make fun of Barry, he and Tom started calling themselves Bobcat and Tomcat.

Never one to do traditional standup, Goldthwait started onstage as a teenager doing crazy, Andy Kaufman-esque things, like reading a Dear John letter, crying, then trying to do observational comedy in tears. By his 20s, the persona that made Goldthwait famous had developed out of this deconstructional kind of comedy to become the centre of his act. He kept in character regardless of what jokes or antics squeaked out. It got him on Letterman when he was just 20, and eventually on The Tonight Show too, where he famously lit the couch on fire. Goldthwait's recurring role in the Police Academy movie series as Zed, a watered-down version of his darker onstage character, only solidified his place as a comedic oddity in the mainstream.

Then a funny thing happened: He got tired of the voice that made him famous, and realized he didn't like doing standup all that much. He stepped away from the stage and started working behind the television cameras. He directed segments of The Man Show and Chappelle's Show, then took a job on Jimmy Kimmel, directing 300 episodes. When Goldthwait returned to standup a few years ago, he phased out the screaming and muttering he'd relied upon earlier in his comedy career. "I'm almost 50 and for me to go up and still do a persona that I invented when I was in my early 20s or younger, y'know, it's kind of weird."

What he does now focuses more on his bizarre sense of humour than his bizarre delivery. He sees things and talks about them. As he does this interview, he looks around the WEM hotel room. When Richard Lewis played the Comic Strip last year, he quipped that his theme room had a Jacuzzi so big he had to scuttle along the walls to avoid it. Goldthwait is in something more traditional. "I guess the theme would be 1980," he says. "I wish I had an igloo. Maybe next time I'll get the semi-truck to sleep in."

It's Goldthwait's second trip to Edmonton to do standup in as many years. Last time he was here, he rented a car to go see Degrassi alumni Spike and Caitlin do a DJ set at the Pawn Shop off Whyte Avenue. Bobcat and his wife have followed the Canadian teen soap pretty religiously, watching it by the box set, both the original and the rebooted Next Generation. "I love it because it's just so crazy. You know, one week Emma's getting throat gonorrhea from a guy and the next week they're best friends. I'm like: 'Wait a second ... What are you doing?' "

When he does standup at The Comic Strip in West Edmonton Mall starting tonight, the trademark voice will at best make a guest appearance. "Trust me, when I'm bombing or if I'm in a really bad environment, I might pull out the Grover voice, y'know, you might hear a little more of the 'Ah-gah! Ah-gah!' "
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bobcat Goldthwait - 2012-05-12 - NPR
download mp3
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