'Unfortunately, that’s what interests me ... making people feel awkward'

By Rich Tupica

Bobcat Goldthwait is still a stand-up guy

Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2013 — In addition to his recognizable gruff, yet shrieking voice, Bobcat Goldthwait is also known for his dark comedy that shines through in his stand-up routines as well as the films he’s written and directed over the past 25 years. While some may remember him from the “Police Academy” series and his own edgy flicks like “Shakes the Clown,” today the 49-year old comedian keeps busy touring comedy clubs and producing on-the-fringe films.

After all these years and success in film, why continue stand-up?

I say it’s a joke, but it’s actually true: it’s the thing that keeps me off reality television. If I do stand-up I am able to make these small movies and make them on my own terms. Fortunately, the last three movies I’ve made I really didn’t have to go through the normal process where you have to listen to executives. So as long as I continue to make movies that are outside of the mainstream I’ll probably have to do stand-up to pay my bills.

Critics describe your comedy as dark, do you agree?
I think my comedy started from a very dark place and then as I sold out, I kind of watered down what I was doing. (He laughs.) But I guess my material has always been a little dark. Unfortunately, that’s what interests me when I’m making a movie or writing stuff: making people feel awkward. It isn’t very lucrative but it’s much more rewarding.

You wrote and directed the dark comedy “God Bless America,” which is set for a June 2012 release – what’s it about?

The protagonist, instead of committing suicide, goes out and shoots and kills a girl on the show “My Super Sweet 16.” But it’s not just about reality stars and people from pop culture. The protagonist just kills people that aren’t nice, aren’t polite or are just self-absorbed. At one point they shoot and kill a couple kids that are texting during a movie. But people get confused and think the message is that I hate all this stuff. But the real message is — and it sounds kind of trite — I’m just asking people and myself to be kinder to each other.

How was it working with Robin Williams on your 2009 film “World’s Greatest Dad?”

Robin’s been one of my best friends since I was a young man. We’ve known each other for 30 years. I will say, the day before we started shooting I was thinking, ‘Is he going to listen to me?’ Am I going to start directing him and he’s going to say, “Oh really, show me how you did it on ‘Hot to Trot.’’’ Or, he’ll say, “I won an Oscar and you were in ‘Police Academy.’’’ But that’s not what happened at all. I give him so much credit because he certainly doesn’t need to be in my weird, dark movie. I love working with him. I wrote another picture for him and me to do together; hopefully, someday we’ll do that.

Are hecklers the worst part of being a stand-up comedian?
It’s not the heckling. It’s the situations where the crowd is so drunk and rowdy and your job is to make them laugh. You can’t cheer up somebody who’s completely hammered. That part becomes a drag. That is the difference between making a movie and being a nightclub comedian. When you’re a nightclub comedian you have to keep the dumbest person in the room occupied the whole time.

Bobcat Goldthwait

8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday, Nov.18 and Saturday, Nov.19

Connxtions Comedy Club

2900 N. East Street, Lansing


( 517) 374-HAHA