In the '80s and '90s, stand-up comedian Bobcat Goldthwait was a household name thanks to his deranged persona that was prone to random, psychotic outbursts. Goldthwait starred in decade-defining films such as the Police Academy franchise, and later acted in, directed, and wrote films such as Sleeping Dogs Lie and Shakes the Clown — hailed by the Boston Globe as "the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies." He never made Hollywood's A-list, but that wasn't part of the plan. These days he's still making films but has returned to stand-up a wiser, less abrasive, but no less sidesplitting version of his true self. He performs at the Laughing Skull Lounge Jan. 27–30.
When I was a kid I never realized that all of your shouting and strange ways were an act.
Really? Well, when you have such an extreme persona people are surprised when they find out that you're a normal person. As a kid, I was really influenced by Andy Kaufmann, and playing myself never interested me too much.
Was there overlap between you and the persona you created?
When I was doing stand-up I would say stuff that was shocking, and even though I never was homicidal, I would threaten to kill someone [laughs]. The older I got the more I agreed with some of the things that the character was saying.
Were you into punk rock, like Zed from the Police Academy movies was?
Yeah, when I was a teenager I was in a band called the Dead Ducks. I graduated in 1980 so I was definitely exposed to the first wave of that kind of music, and I was definitely into it.
Tell me about your work as a filmmaker.
I have directed four movies and they were done very indie. I really like making movies outside of the mainstream. If I can keep doing that, I'll be happy. I'm 48 years old now and a lot of people hope that they're going to do well and gain some notoriety. Really, my goal is to not be the guy that directs The Hangover III. I'm into making small movies that are kind of personal. Right now I'm working on a film that's based on the Kinks album Schoolboys in Disgrace. It's kind of the genesis of a super villain and Ray Davies is on board as a producer.
Was Shakes the Clown your veiled commentary on working as a Hollywood comedian during the '80s?
Well, I wasn't trying to rip the lid off of the clown world [laughs]. Clearly, the world of the clowns is making fun of the stand-up world, but rarely do people get that, and that's OK [laughs].
Do you feel like you've come full circle now that you're doing stand-up again?
I have in a weird way. The difference is that now I know what I want to do. When I was a young man I took any job that anyone offered me. My intentions were juvenile: get famous. Now I actually am interested in telling stories and being on stage. Although I've never experimented with bestiality or autoerotic asphyxiation, these are still super personal stories for me.
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