Best known for his comically loud and hoarse voice so ably put to use as gang leader-turned bumbling cop Zed in Police Academy movies 2, 3, and 4, Bobcat Goldthwait and his post-’80s film resume have proven to be far more interesting.
In 1991, Goldthwait wrote, directed, and starred in Shakes the Clown, a dark comedy about an alcoholic party clown. Two years later and he appeared in Alex Winter's 1993 cult comedy Freaked as the voice of Sockhead, a man with a literal sockpuppet for a head. The cult film only gets stranger from there. And in many respects, so does Goldthwait’s filmmaking career, as the writer and director of dark, edgy comedies that explore bestiality (2006’s Sleeping Dogs Lie) and vigilante justice (2011’s God Bless America). His most recent effort, Willow Creek, is a found footage horror movie about a young couple who wander into the remote woods where the famed Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot footage was shot.
When not making movies, Goldthwait continues to perform stand-up. He’s headlining four shows this weekend at Toledo's just-opened comedy club, Laffs Inc., 3922 Secor Rd. The comedian performs at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets to the 21-and-older shows are $17 and can be purchased at laffsinc.com or by calling 419-214-0700.
While at the Riviera Maya Film Festival in Cancun, Mexico, to showcase Willow Creek, Goldthwait took some time to answer a batch of email questions from The Blade about his career in movies.
Q: It's been more than 20 years since Freaked was released. What are your thoughts when you first read the script and saw the film vs. your opinion of the film now -- especially as a filmmaker?
A: When I first read the script I thought Alex Winter and Tom Stern (Freaked's writer and directors) were on drugs. Only after getting to know them did I realize that they were most certainly on drugs. I think the movie holds up like a copy of Mad magazine drawn by Robert Williams.
Q. As much as people may remember you from the Police Academy films, you've evolved far beyond that as a filmmaker. Talk about your evolution from those days to Shakes the Clown and more recently God Bless America.
A: I don't know if I have evolved. The movies I make now share my same voice as I did as a young man as in regards to my stand up. I don't really think Ron Howard has evolved since Richie Cunningham. I just think he moved from being an actor in a dopey sitcom to behind the camera.
Q. God Bless America is one of those outrageous social satires that, sadly, must be true -- or will be at some point. Talk about your idea for the film and what message you were conveying.
A: It's a violent movie about kindness. The inspiration came from when I was in Europe and they were having a My Super 16 marathon on MTV Europe. It terrified me that this was what the rest of the world's impression of the U.S. was.
Q: As someone who's been involved with cult films, what's makes a cult film? And what are you favorite cult films?
A: What makes a cult film is low box-office numbers. I don't set out to make cult movies. My favorite cult movie is Ed Wood.
Q: How does a stand-up comic get into filmmaking and who were your influences and people who helped make it possible?
A: Lots of people have influenced movies. Everyone from Mike White to Mel Brooks. So many stands-ups went on to become directors, i.e. Woody Allen, Barry Levinson, Judd Apatow, that it doesn't really seem like a big leap to me. Movie makers and stand-ups are both storytellers. There is just less hecklers in directing. Jimmy Kimmel has a lot to do with why I am a director. He believed in me when most people were using my name as a punchline.
Q: How do you balance a career as a filmmaker and director with being a stand-up comic? Do the worlds complement each other and, perhaps, even feed off of each other?
A: I do stand up to keep me off of reality shows. It also makes it so I can make my own movies on my own terms.
Contact Kirk Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.