The Nine Lives of Bobcat

Photo by CALLIE BIGGERSTAFF

Photo by CALLIE BIGGERSTAFF

By CHRIS HUMPHREYS
Contributing Writer

If you’re around my age, then you might have fond memories of Robert “Bobcat” Goldthwait as the voice of Floppy, the talking-alcoholic-chain-smoking-stuffed-rabbit from the WB Network’s “Unhappily Ever After” which ran from ’94-’99. If you’re a little older than me, you remember Bobcat as Zed from “Policy Academy 2, 3 and 4.” Or maybe I’m wrong, and you know him from the dozens of TV shows, movies and video games he’s appeared in over the last three decades, with his signature screeching voice. While “the voice” 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 ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” for four years (267 episodes), and in 2009 he directed his long-time friend, the late Robin Williams in “World’s Greatest Dad.”

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, I’m actually a big fan, so this is an honor.

Bobcat Goldthwait: Oh I’ll crush that right out of you.

Humphreys: How’s touring going?

Bobcat: Well you know, I go back and forth. I’m on the road doing stand-up on the weekends, and during the week I’m in (Los Angeles). I’m working on editing this documentary that I’m finishing up.

Humphreys: What’s the documentary about?

Bobcat: It’s about a comedian named Barry Crimmins. He’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: You’ve done a lot of directing in TV and films; what made you want to do a documentary?

Bobcat: I just thought that Barry’s story – 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 – the story tells itself. Although editing is a bigger chore than the other movies I’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.

Humphreys: You’ve directed a few theatrical releases – I actually just watched “God Bless America,” and didn’t even realize that was yours, until I saw your name in the end credits.

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 I’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 IFC’s “Maron.” Are you doing anymore of those?

Bobcat: Yeah, I’m gonna go do more episodes of “Maron,” and there’s a sketch show on truTV called “Friends of the People” that I direct some episodes of, I really enjoy working with those guys. And I’m going to do an episode of “Community” this December or January.

Humphreys: A lot of the TV you’ve directed is more reality based, for example, “The Man Show,” “Crank Yankers” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” – do you prefer those over fictional shows?

Bobcat: No, I think it’s all different … they use different skills, different toolsets. So directing “Kimmel” is how I ended up directing Patton Oswalt’s special, because I’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 “Police Academy” would you want to be a part of it?

Bobcat: Well I have a joke in my act because they are rebooting “Police Academy.” I say “they’re going to do what they did with ’21 Jump Street’ and make it a comedy this time.”

Humphreys: (laughs) I didn’t even know about that!

Bobcat: Yeah, there’s a reboot in the works, but I’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 wasn’t there; you know it’s weird when you see the reunion shows and someone doesn’t show up. You go, “oh that guy must be an asshole.” 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 I’m not spiking a football and dancing around because they’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 “Bleach” which I listened to and I thought “man, rock ’n’ roll sucks. ‘Cause this is a really good album and you’ll never hear from these guys (again.)”

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 shows… (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 “Dancing with the Stars?”

Bobcat: Yeah, it’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 I’m not so keen on giving up my personal life in order to sell tickets to shows.

Humphreys: Well we’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 I’m interested in coming. It’s Tod Browning’s home, the guy who directed “Freaks” and “Dracula,” and a lot of the Lon Chaney movies, so I’m interested in seeing Tod Browning’s home.

Humphreys: It’s been great to talk to you. Is there anything you’d like to end on?

Bobcat: Oh thanks man … my bigfoot movie is out there now, it’s on digital platforms and blu-ray. It’s a scary bigfoot movie called “Willow Creek.”

You can find out more about “Willow Creek” 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.