News Column

Bobcat Goldthwait pulling double duty during Bloomington stop

October 27, 2013


Oct. 27--For busy comedian and filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait, his visit to Bloomington this week is a real treat.

In the past 10 days, he's been to Spain, Los Angeles, Canada, Portland and Ireland.

"It is the perfect storm for me, so I'm excited," he said of his planned trip to town.

During his visit, Goldthwait will screen two of his films, give a lecture at Indiana University and perform stand-up at the Comedy Attic.

Goldthwait is known to many as a comedian and actor who used a high, screeching voice that added to his humorous act. Then, Goldthwait turned to directing and writing screenplays.

"I jokingly say that I retired from acting the same time they stopped hiring me, so it worked out pretty well," he said.

He admits his first screenplays were written for all the wrong reasons. Some he intended as vehicles for himself. Others he wrote with the intention of just seeing them made.

"I wasn't concentrating on telling stories. About six or seven years ago, I wrote a screenplay that wasn't for me, and it wasn't for everyone. It was just to tell a story," he said.

The first film Goldthwait made was "Sleeping Dogs Lie," which was originally released as "Stay."

"The first movie out of this series that I've been doing was a movie we shot for 20 grand with a crew from Craigslist," he said of that movie.

His movies don't always get the best reactions. He finds it "very weird" that fans are showing retrospectives of his movies. He's also heard from a "religious kook" who blamed the film "God Bless America" for school shootings. Reactions to his movie "Shakes the Clown" were also mixed.

"That was, I think, too weird for everyone, and I think that put me in comedy jail and movie jail for a while," he said.

Writing and directing was something Goldthwait realizes now was something he was destined to do. He remembers looking at movie posters and being more interested in seeing the writer and director names.

"I'm pretty happy," he said of the career shift. "It's certainly the thing that makes me happiest."

With so many ideas in his head, Goldthwait is constantly writing, which he said is done in a very manic way.

"It's writing in hotel rooms. It's on planes. I had to get over the fact that I'm typing a screenplay on a plane going to or flying away from L.A.," he said.

He initially found it daunting to be typing a screenplay with passengers nearby.

"I don't worry about that now. If they can be busy working on their spreadsheets, I guess it's fine for me," he said.

But his career path was a necessity. Goldthwait said that if he'd gone to film school and had a career only as a director, he would be wondering if he could do stand-up or be an actor.

And he doesn't find the change all that surprising. He points to directors such as Woody Allen and Barry Levinson, who started their careers as stand-up comedians.

He realizes many people still know him from his acting days when he starred in a couple of the "Police Academy" sequels and other sophomoric comedies.

"I had the career as a young man that most people have at the end of their career. I sold out quickly as a young man," he said.

He marvels at how his stand-up person was considered "crazy and dangerous" yet he "completely neutered it by starring in teen comedies. My friends were getting out of college and I was being asked to be on those kinds of movies. I don't know if I would or wouldn't have done those movies, but it's funny to be 30 years later, talking to people about them in an airport every day," Goldthwait said with a laugh.

But his career path has gotten him to this point where he can write and direct and create the movies he wants. Still, it isn't easy to get the public to recognize he is multifaceted.

"No matter what, I'll have the curse of Opie. There's still people who don't think of Ron Howard as a director," he said.

Goldthwait said he recently finished a screenplay that is similar in tone to his "World's Greatest Dad" film. He reluctantly refers to it as a dark comedy.

"I think most contemporary comedy that's interesting is dark," he said.

He's also working on a musical inspired by "Schoolboys in Disgrace," a 1975 album by the Kinks. That project explains his recent trip to Ireland where he is working with Ray Davies of the Kinks.

"It's like a dream project from when I was 13," Goldthwait said, adding that he'd long been able to visualize the stories that can be told with that music.

And, of course, there is his stand-up career, which continues to keep Goldthwait busy.

"The thing about stand-up is I enjoy doing it, but at the same time, it makes it so I can make the movies on my terms. I'm not looking for a job," he said.

Goldthwait said he lives a frugal lifestyle so he isn't stuck paying for a lavish lifestyle.

Goldthwait has performed at the Comedy Attic before, so he is familiar with Bloomington. He was a little disappointed to learn one of his favorite restaurants had closed. But he was confident he'd find a new favorite this week. But being able to stay in one place for a couple of days will be a nice change of pace for this frequent flyer.

"The Comedy Attic is one of the best clubs in the country. I really do love playing there, and I like the town. I'm going to be very happy," he said.

Arts editor Marci Creps can be reached at or 812-331-4375.


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