Bobcat Goldthwait comes to Houston
Bobcat Goldthwait easily moves between stand-up comedy gigs and directing movies that show a variety of styles. In the past some of his escapades were notorious for their outrageousness, like the time he started a fire on the set of The Tonight Show in 1994. Goldthwait’s movies (God Bless America, The World’s Greatest Dad) show a firm hand at depicting black comedy but he’s also helmed genre pieces like the Bigfoot found footage flick Willow Creek while his newest film, Call Me Lucky, is a serious documentary that examines online child abuse.
Bobcat tells Free Press Houston about his current schedule in a phone interview. “I do this almost every week,” he says about his touring schedule that brings him to Houston this Sunday, December 14 at Fitzgerald’s. Bobcat will fly into a town or towns for weekend gigs and then fly back to finish work on his latest film. “It’s a crazier year than usual, I’m doing the final work on a documentary that got into Sundance.” Call Me Lucky plays at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 27.
Some of Bobcat’s comedy revolves around his experience in the entertainment business, like the time he was let go from Hollywood Squares. “People would not call on me when I was on Hollywood Squares, and I don’t know why; even if they needed my square to win. Another thing is that they would write the ad-libs ahead of time and I wasn’t really big on that. I would come up with my own.”
In addition to feature films, Bobcat has also directed episodic television as well as episodes of The Jimmy Kimmel Show. “I did the Kimmel show for about three years, and now I work on Mark Maron’s show on IFC. There’s also a sketch show called Friends of the People that’s on TruTV, I directed some of those,” says Goldthwait. The Kimmel show is shot live using multiple cameras. “It’s a different skill, you’re in the booth calling the shots to the cameras.”
Bobcat expressed his desire to work with friends so showing up on the set is not like punching a clock. The World’s Greatest Dad starred Robin Williams, whom Bobcat had shared billing on gigs in his early stand-up days. “I met Robin when I was 19. We were friends for 33 years,” says Goldthwait. World’s Greatest Dad sharply observes to politics of suicide and while that may seem close to home in relation to Williams’ recent passing Bobcat counters. “It is and it isn’t. It was just a movie. Robin was sick and that’s why he passed away.
“I don’t set out to make definitive statements in my movies and I try to make completely different movies,” adds Goldthwait.
Call Me Lucky is a kind of tribute to an early mentor of Bobcat – Barry Crimmins who ran comedy clubs where Goldthwait got his start. “I first met Barry in my hometown of Syracuse where he hosted an open mike night. Barry, his story, is an amazing guy. The film follows his comedy career but also his personal transformation as an adult who was a survivor of child abuse,” says Goldthwait.
“Crimmins took on AOL because they were allowing child pornography to be exchanged in their chat rooms. Barry took the matter all the way to the Senate floor. He’s a fascinating man and a bit of a hero. On a larger scale Call Me Lucky is a universal story. In some ways it reminds me of World’s Greatest Dad because it’s about an adult taking charge of his life. You can make a movie that has a message but if it’s not entertaining at the end of the day no one is going to see it.”
— Michael Bergeron