By CHRIS HUMPHREYS
If youâ€™re around my age, then you might have fond memories of Robert â€œBobcatâ€ Goldthwait as the voice of Floppy, the talking-alcoholic-chain-smoking-stuffed-rabbit from the WB Networkâ€™s â€œUnhappily Ever Afterâ€ which ran from â€™94-â€™99. If youâ€™re a little older than me, you remember Bobcat as Zed from â€œPolicy Academy 2, 3 and 4.â€ Or maybe Iâ€™m wrong, and you know him from the dozens of TV shows, movies and video games heâ€™s appeared in over the last three decades, with his signature screeching voice. While â€œthe voiceâ€ has been retired, Bobcat is still as funny and talented as ever.
In recent years, the 52-year-old New Yorker has added a few twists to his resume, including directing ABCâ€™s â€œJimmy Kimmel Live!â€ for four years (267 episodes), and in 2009 he directed his long-time friend, the late Robin Williams in â€œWorldâ€™s Greatest Dad.â€
While he prefers to spend his time directing, Bobcat still returns to his roots on weekends to perform stand-up throughout the country. You can catch him in Louisville performing stand-up at The Laughing Derby from Nov. 20-22. I recently spoke to the comedian/writer/actor/director over the phone.
Chris Humphreys: Nice to talk to you Bobcat, Iâ€™m actually a big fan, so this is an honor.
Bobcat Goldthwait: Oh Iâ€™ll crush that right out of you.
Humphreys: Howâ€™s touring going?
Bobcat: Well you know, I go back and forth. Iâ€™m on the road doing stand-up on the weekends, and during the week Iâ€™m in (Los Angeles). Iâ€™m working on editing this documentary that Iâ€™m finishing up.
Humphreys: Whatâ€™s the documentary about?
Bobcat: Itâ€™s about a comedian named Barry Crimmins. Heâ€™s a guy who kind of influenced a lot of different comedians, but his own story is pretty interesting, so I would make the movie about him even if he were a plumber, not to take anything away from people who are plumbers.
Humphreys: Youâ€™ve done a lot of directing in TV and films; what made you want to do a documentary?
Bobcat: I just thought that Barryâ€™s story â€“ I originally wanted to do it as a narrative, but I realized that would be a really big movie and I also thought (about) the luxury of doing a documentary â€“ the story tells itself. Although editing is a bigger chore than the other movies Iâ€™ve made. I also like the idea of not making the same kind of movies over and over again, so the challenge of making a documentary interested me.
Bobcat: Oh thanks. Yeah, I actually do put my name at the end of the movies, just because I know I come with some baggage, and Iâ€™d rather have someone stumble upon it and then just judge it on its own merits.
Humphreys: This year you directed a few episodes of IFCâ€™s â€œMaron.â€ Are you doing anymore of those?
Bobcat: Yeah, Iâ€™m gonna go do more episodes of â€œMaron,â€ and thereâ€™s a sketch show on truTV called â€œFriends of the Peopleâ€ that I direct some episodes of, I really enjoy working with those guys. And Iâ€™m going to do an episode of â€œCommunityâ€ this December or January.
Humphreys: A lot of the TV youâ€™ve directed is more reality based, for example, â€œThe Man Show,â€ â€œCrank Yankersâ€ and â€œJimmy Kimmel Live!â€ â€“ do you prefer those over fictional shows?
Bobcat: No, I think itâ€™s all different â€¦ they use different skills, different toolsets. So directing â€œKimmelâ€ is how I ended up directing Patton Oswaltâ€™s special, because Iâ€™m familiar with live TV. So, I think the thing for me is to keep directing movies and TV, and just keep challenging myself and not doing the same thing over and over again.
Humphreys: With all the current movie remakes and sequels coming 10 and 20 years after the original films, if there was a remake of â€œPolice Academyâ€ would you want to be a part of it?
Bobcat: Well I have a joke in my act because they are rebooting â€œPolice Academy.â€ I say â€œtheyâ€™re going to do what they did with â€™21 Jump Streetâ€™ and make it a comedy this time.â€
Bobcat: Yeah, thereâ€™s a reboot in the works, but Iâ€™m not too interested in it. I mean I would probably do it, if it was one of those things where it was obvious that I wasnâ€™t there; you know itâ€™s weird when you see the reunion shows and someone doesnâ€™t show up. You go, â€œoh that guy must be an asshole.â€ So if it was presented in a way where a lot of us were coming back, then I might show up and do the cameo, but Iâ€™m not spiking a football and dancing around because theyâ€™re finally doing a reboot. (laughs)
Humphreys: I just read that you opened for Nirvana during their last tour?
Bobcat: Yeah, I was like the emcee, but I would do stand-up between the bands. I met Kurt (Cobain) before Nirvana broke up. He was a fan of my stand-up. He wanted to meet me, so he interviewed me for a college radio station in Ann Arbor, and gave me a copy of â€œBleachâ€ which I listened to and I thought â€œman, rock â€™nâ€™ roll sucks. â€˜Cause this is a really good album and youâ€™ll never hear from these guys (again.)â€
Humphreys: Speaking of your stand-up, you retired in 2005, then gradually made your return. What was behind the decision to go back on the road?
Bobcat: To keep me off of reality showsâ€¦ (laughs) I like doing stand-up, and it affords me the ability to just direct and work on the things that interest me, instead of just doing stuff that I have no interest in being involved with.
Humphreys: So, it funds the fun stuff, and keeps you off â€œDancing with the Stars?â€
Bobcat: Yeah, itâ€™s just a very weird life that I lead. I feel that fame is different now. If you want to be a comic, for the most part, you end up being not just being a comedian, but also having podcasts, and a large social media presence, and those are the things that fill audiences. And Iâ€™m not so keen on giving up my personal life in order to sell tickets to shows.
Humphreys: Well weâ€™ll see you on stage in Louisville on the 20th. Is it your first time visiting?
Bobcat: No, I think I was there once and the gig got rained out; there was this flash flood. Then I was there years before, and there was some sort of local music awards, you know, why not get a guy from out of town to host the local music awards? That makes sense. (laughs) But Iâ€™m interested in coming. Itâ€™s Tod Browningâ€™s home, the guy who directed â€œFreaksâ€ and â€œDracula,â€ and a lot of the Lon Chaney movies, so Iâ€™m interested in seeing Tod Browningâ€™s home.
Humphreys: Itâ€™s been great to talk to you. Is there anything youâ€™d like to end on?
Bobcat: Oh thanks man â€¦ my bigfoot movie is out there now, itâ€™s on digital platforms and blu-ray. Itâ€™s a scary bigfoot movie called â€œWillow Creek.â€
You can find out more about â€œWillow Creekâ€ and Bobcat by following him on Twitter @bcgoldthwait. For more information and to buy tickets to his show at The Laughing Derby, visit www.laughingderby.com.