Comedian Bobcat Goldthwait just keeps chasing the future

Bobcat Goldthwait

Penguin’s Comedy Club — Fri., Apr. 8 at 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Apr. 9 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Bobcat Goldthwait plays Penguins Comedy Club on Apr. 8 & 9.
Comedian Bobcat Goldthwait will be in Cedar Rapids on Apr. 8 & 9, at Penguin’s Comedy Club. — photo by Robyn Von Swank.
Bobcat Goldthwait — the highly recognizable actor, director, writer and veteran comedian — has an expansive list of credits in both TV and film, many of which are available to stream on Netflix.

Notable among these is his 2015 documentary Call Me Lucky, which focuses on comedian Barry Crimmins’ scathing, stark, observational style. It delves into his dark and painful past — something that inspired Crimmins’ life-changing campaign of activism in helping others, and sparing them from a similar experience.

This marks Bobcat’s first foray into documentary, after dozens of directing credits across television and film, ranging from episodes of shows such as Maron and Jimmy Kimmel Live to terse character studies like World’s Greatest Dad.

Bobcat will be performing three shows at Penguin’s Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids on Friday and Saturday Apr. 8 & 9. Tickets are $22.50 in advance and $27.50 at the door. There is also a two-drink minimum. The shows are 21 and up.

Little Village was fortunate enough to join Goldthwait for a phone chat; below are excerpts from the conversation.

Bobcat Goldthwait: Good morning Ryan, this is Bobcat!

Little Village: OK — so my first question is out of the way — it’s OK for me to call you Bobcat then?

Well, unless you have some other names you want to call me, but I’m not sure if I’d like them! (laughs)

Ha! I would have gone with Mr. Goldthwait.

Naw — let’s not do that — Bobcat is fine.

You’ve had a long, healthy and storied stand-up career, and been on unique comedy tours. How does hitting the road feel this time around? What keeps an endeavor like this fresh for you?

Sure, sure, well one thing is that I’m going up there now as myself rather than the character [of “Bobcat”]. I get to share more of myself now. I think that if I was still doing that thing now it’d be kinda pathetic.

I’m not sure if I’d be as harsh as to call it pathetic, because the character would still work, but I can see how it would feel like a security blanket for you.

Exactly, I still get some people that expect it, but hopefully they get on board after a few minutes.

I mentioned “unique” tours, and I was thinking of your opening stint with Nirvana. What was it like facing young, presumably inebriated, pseudo-punk rock grunge fans every night?

Yeah, that came about because Kurt was a fan of my comedy. Which might surprise some people. I guess that’s sort of like finding out Jimi Hendrix was a fan of Buddy Hackett or something, but he just dug my stuff. That was a lot of fun — sure there were some rough nights, but when it worked it really worked, and I had a great time with them.

Again, I would not be that harsh. For me, it’s more like finding out that George Harrison is an Eric Idle fan.

Oh, wow, really? That’s pretty cool. You know Eric is a friend of mine. I’ll have to tell him you said that.

You currently have over 30 shows posted to your schedule, and that’s just March through May. Is this shaking up to be a busier year for you?

Naw, that’s pretty average for me. I’m fortunate that I can do this thing [standup] and it affords me the ability to not take parts on shows or in movies that I would [otherwise] need to do to pay the bills.

I can totally see how being the sixth lead, zany neighbor on a sitcom would be less than fulfilling for you — so that makes sense.

True. Not that there is anything wrong with those types of parts, but I just don’t have to deal with them. You have to understand that I had the type of work at my start that most people have at a much later part of their career.

Speaking of which, let me just say the only time I’m going to mention Police Academy, is by mentioning that I won’t be asking you about Police Academy. (laughter) And I’m fully aware of the fact you were not in the first film. You came in for the middle of the franchise as new blood.

Man, it’s amazing how many people don’t know that. I’ve had a lot of them hand me a DVD at a convention or something and it’s that first Police Academy! (laughs)

Please tell me you signed it, “I’m not in this picture — Bobcat.” Ha!

(laughing) Yes, I absolutely do!

This is a stock question, so forgive me, but I have to ask: Who was the guy or girl that made you laugh as a kid? Who was it that inspired you and made you say, “I wanna do that!”

Do you mean, like, people I knew, or comedians?

Both. Either or. I’m just wondering what clicked for you.

Well, it started early for me, because my best friend in elementary school was Tom Kenny — the voice of SpongeBob — so I was always the second funniest kid growing up. As for stand ups, I remember seeing George Carlin doing a set on a daytime talk show as a kid, and I asked my mom, “What does he do for a living?” and she said, “That’s it, that’s what he does.” And I was like, “Yeah that’s the way to go, that’s pretty cool. I want to do that.”

You’ve directed everything: TV, live TV, feature films and documentaries. One of the TV shows you’ve directed was Maron — did you know that Marc is actually performing in Iowa City the Friday you are in Cedar Rapids? He’s dipping into your take, ha!

Oh, I didn’t know that. Naw, I’m sure he’s playing a theatre or something. I need to reach out to him and see if he’ll give me a shoutout on Twitter or something.

Yeah, offer him tickets in exchange — for your early show on Saturday!

Yeah, I’ll sweeten the deal by letting him know I’ll get him in!

Either way, as a fan of comedy I couldn’t be happier — it’s going to be a great weekend of laughing for me. I’ve heard that whether it’s acting or a comedy tour/show, your intention is to make the capital you need to start production on your next feature. Is that case with this tour — do you already have a project in mind?

Well, it’s not like that anymore, I don’t have to put the capital up to get my films made. I’ve been fortunate enough to have other people doing that for me and paying for the projects. I do have a few things in mind, but nothing that I want to actually talk about at the moment.

Speaking of films, what was the last movie you saw? What films are you looking forward to?

I actually like all kinds of movies. I thought Deadpool was good. I end up seeing a lot of my friends’ movies at film festivals though. I see a lot of films.

I have to be honest with you here and let you know that I have loved your films for a very long time. In the ’80s I watched One Crazy Summer every chance I had (thanks HBO) and as an adult you have become a part of my Christmas tradition with Scrooged. Thank you for both — which in my mind are tied together due to the Murray brothers.

Steve Holland and I keep threatening to do a sequel to One Crazy Summer.

But doesn’t John Cusack notoriously have a “no sequels” policy? Would you guys just kill him off?

Yeah, maybe we’d start it with his funeral and have a Big Chill feel to it! (laughs) It’s funny you mentioned Joel [Murray] because one of the next films I want to work on would star him!

Do you feel like you’ve been lucky that you get to work with your friends, or is that something you pursue or seek out in your work?

Yeah, I’m fortunate to get time to work with old friends, whether it’s Joel or Robin [Williams] or Barry Crimmins.

Earlier I alluded to your TV work — you actually worked on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show from 2004–2007. What an amazing experience that must have been, to direct live television five nights a week. I have also heard you recount some of your memories of that time — are there any anecdotes you’d like to share with Little Village readers?

On that, I wore a lot of hats, literally, I would wear different silly hats every day. You see, I have a theory that it’s hard to be in a bad mood wearing a sombrero or something. I did this so often that the one day a few crew members were like, “Whoa, watch out for Bobcat — he’s in a bad mood, he’s not wearing a hat!” Ha!

Ok, Bobcat — here’s something I like to do to wrap these interviews up. It’s a rapid fire, no wrong answer, Coke-or-Pepsi style set of questions. Are you okay with that?

Yes, absolutely!

Joel or Bill?

Ha, well I definitely have to with Joel.

Correct answer, we would also have accepted Brian. (laughter) Acting or writing?


G. W. Bailey or Steve Guttenberg?

Oh, I gotta go with the Gute.

Comedy specials: performing them or directing them?

Performing them.

Best interviewer ever: Jimmy Kimmel or myself?

(laughing) Isn’t there an option “C” on this one? (laughs) Well, I’ll have to go with Jimmy because I’ve known him longer.

Yeah, well, that guy had Bobcat Goldthwait making him look good, so of course he wins.