Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 77° Partly Cloudy
A&E >  Entertainment

Director and actor Bobcat Goldthwait returns to stage as a comedian

Aug. 12, 2021 Updated Thu., Aug. 12, 2021 at 3:08 p.m.

Bobcat Goldthwait arrives at the premiere of “Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits and Monsters” at the Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles on July 11, 2018.  (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
Bobcat Goldthwait arrives at the premiere of “Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits and Monsters” at the Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles on July 11, 2018. (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Living well is the best revenge. One of the most memorable moments in the history of radio host Howard Stern’s career was when the self-professed King of All Media and comic Sam Kinison called fellow humorist Bobcat Goldthwait to end a feud between the two standups.

The concept was to bury the hatchet, but Kinison just wanted to bury Goldthwait.

“Sam was always talking a lot of crap about me,” Goldthwait recalled while calling from his Chicago home. “I looked bad when they did that.

“I didn’t feel like fighting when I was getting ambushed. It was one of the lower parts of my career. … I’m sure if Sam had lived, he would have been in the Oval Office with Kid Rock. I don’t have anything in common with him. I broke on the national scene before him.”

And Goldthwait is still standing a generation later with enviable credits while the hard-living and polarizing Kinison died in 1992.

Goldthwait, 59, has written and directed four feature films, including the cult classic “Shakes the Clown.” The veteran entertainer, who was part of the “Police Academy” franchise as the enigmatic character Zed, has directed “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Chappelle’s Show” and “The Larry Sanders Show.”

Goldthwait, who will perform Friday and Saturday at the Spokane Comedy Club, is making time again for standup.

“Voice actor) Tom Kenney and I were at a screening of ‘Shakes the Clown’ before the pandemic, and in the middle of the movie, he said, ‘What the hell were we thinking?’ I said. ‘I don’t know.’ I don’t make popular movies, but I do make people’s favorite movies.”

That sounds like a description of John Waters, who gave Goldthwait his “Filmmaker on the Edge” award in 2015 at the Provincetown International Film Festival. Waters, who was behind the camera for under-the-radar gems such as “Polyester,” “Mondo Trasho” and “Female Trouble,” is the epitome of a cult sensation.

“John Waters is great, but, as an artist, I don’t think he goes out and says, ‘I hope this is seen by a very limited group of people who are passionate about it,’ ” Goldthwait said. “Who knows who will see your work?”

Kenney has been close with Goldthwait since they were 6 years old growing up in Syracuse, New York.

“I’ve been friends with Tommy for 53 years,” Goldthwait said. “I think he’s the funniest person I’ve ever been around. When we were kids, we would come home from school, and he would retell a story, and he was always mimicking people or coming up with new voices. We called him the human cartoon, and it’s funny how things worked out.

“The funny thing is that Tom really looked up to Mel Blanc when we were growing, up and I looked up to Mel Brooks. Tom dreamed of cartoons, and I was into ‘Young Frankenstein.’ I remember watching Mel Brooks on ‘The Tonight Show,’ and he had all of this energy and was insane. I didn’t know that was the blueprint for what I would become.”

When Goldthwait emerged as an inscrutable Andy Kaufman-esque comic during the early 1980s, who could have ever guessed that he possessed such range?

“I thought that early persona I came up with was funny,” Goldthwait said. “I’ve changed so much since then. I try to challenge myself. I wouldn’t make a movie if there wasn’t something I found challenging each time out. When I made ‘Willow Creek,’ a scary, suspenseful bigfoot movie, the germ of that movie was when I was watching Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds.’

“I was thinking about how Tarantino always has these suspenseful moments with not a lot going on, but you’re still on the edge of your seat. Can I do this? I tried. The last screenplay I wrote was a family picture. Can I pull it off? It all seems quite possible.”

After screaming his way into the business, Goldthwait has quietly cobbled a career often behind the camera. But he’s back onstage.

“It’s great to have this opportunity again,” Goldthwait said.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter

Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.