If you’re younger than 30, you may never have heard of Bobcat Goldthwait. If you’re older, you may be wondering where the hell he’s been for the last 20 years. Either way, there’s been a method to the undeniable madness of this stand-up comic primarily known for a voice that sounds as if his junk is slowly being tightened in a workbench vice.
His trademark neurotic voice and insane takes on twisted observations are amplified even more by his nutty behavior. During late-night talk-show appearances he’s completely destroyed the sets of Arsenio Hall and Conan O’Brien, as well as setting Jay Leno’s guest chair on fire. On tour with Nirvana, Goldthwait rappelled naked down the stage set as Kurt Cobain counted down to midnight one New Year’s Eve.
“My weirdest experience in the South so far was in Atlanta,” Goldthwait said during a recent phone interview. “People wouldn’t quit yelling ‘Freebird’—so I went off, told them that Skynyrd was dead and the South ain’t risin’ again and all this stuff. Then I see these two big dudes walk up to the stage, and damn if it wasn’t two of the guys from Lynyrd Skynyrd there to see the show. ‘Thank you, goodnight’!”
Over the years, Goldthwait has co-starred in dozens of movies, most notably Scrooged and One Crazy Summer, in addition to the inane “Police Academy” series. Cutting his chops in front of the camera gave Goldthwait a thirst for writing and directing his own films.
“I started out trying to write scripts that I thought would be blockbuster plots that, like, Brad Pitt could star in,” Goldthwait said. “Then I realized that I just needed to write what came natural to my kind of humor. I just wrote for me, and if you like it, awesome.”
Some will say his comedic masterpiece is the 1992 cult classic film Shakes The Clown, which was written by, directed by and stars Goldthwait as a depressed, washed-up alcoholic birthday clown who’s framed for murder. Although proud of the film, he disagrees that it’s his best.
“I go to these festivals now to promote my newer films and there’s always some freaks dressed up like those clown characters asking me inside questions about ‘Shakes’,” said Goldthwait. “It’s cool to have a beloved cult classic but it makes me feel like Shatner on that SNL skit where he tells those Trekkies to ‘get a life.’”
At age 49, Goldthwait is in his creative prime, having written and directed three critically acclaimed films since 2007. These signature dark comedies, Sleeping Dogs Lie, World’s Greatest Dad (starring longtime friend Robin Williams) and his latest, God Bless America, feature truly unique subject matter. All three have generated high praise at film festivals.
“There’s some pretty unconventional plot lines in these films, but they’re written the way my mind works,” said Goldthwait. “I’m not trying to intentionally be outlandish or freak people out. These ideas aren’t for mass appeal. They’re just very personal to me.”
Goldthwait is also currently working on a screenplay for the Kinks’ mid-’70s concept album Schoolboys in Disgrace alongside idol and Kinks frontman Ray Davies.
“As a huge fan, working with Ray is a dream come true,” said Goldthwait. “It’s funny because I actually had to ask him to write another song to tie the film together and this guy who’s written hundreds of songs admitted that he didn’t like to write. I couldn’t believe it because I don’t like to write either—it’s the hardest part!”
On top of all this, Goldthwait has written enough new stand-up material for an upcoming Showtime special and we’re lucky enough to see him perform it in person at the Vaudeville Café this weekend. Don’t miss it!
Friday, December 16,
Saturday, December 17,
8 and 10:30 p.m.
Vaudeville Café, 138 Market St.
(423) 634-9929. funnydinner.com