Forgive the pun, but Bobcat Goldthwait is an interesting cat. Having risen to fame as a stand-up comic with a dark and bizarre stage persona, he went on to star in cult classic films like the Police Academy franchise, Tapeheads, Scrooged, and One Crazy Summer. From there, he got into directing, which has included work on TV shows like Chappelle’s Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Maron, and Important Things with Demetri Martin, as well as his own original films like Shakes the Clown, Call Me Lucky, Willow Creek and God Bless America. He’s an intelligent, insightful guy who has run the gamut of the entertainment industry and came out with his integrity intact, which is more than can be said for others. Along the way, he’s accrued many hilarious stories, and he recently appeared on the Modern Day Philosophers podcast to regale with some of them.
MDP is a podcast hosted by LA-by-way-of-NYC comedian Danny Lobell, in which the comic interviews fellow comedians, getting a bit of backstory on their lives and careers, before they engage in a philosophical discussion that’s curated each episode by Lobell’s friend and fellow comic, Alex Fossella. While this particular episode, the finale of the show’s seventh season, doesn’t come out until Wednesday, March 22nd, the IBang was allowed to check it out in advance, and it’s a good one. Below are just a few short highlights from the 70 minute long conversation, which you will be able to check out either through the show’s website or by subscribing via iTunes.
Goldthwait described himself as a comedy nerd from childhood. Beginning his stand-up career at the age of 15, Goldthwait was a lover and student of the craft, who rebelled against what he called the “sweater comics” of the time who would talk about inane topics on stage. “I was such a comedy nerd when I was a little boy, it’s funny, I find adult comedy nerds frustrating. I started doing comedy when I was a boy, so by the time I became an adult, I no longer wanted to be a stand-up comedian, I kinda wanted to make fun of the craft,” he joked. “Later on in life, I became the very thing I was making fun of, because now I’m a storyteller when I do stand-up.”
Goldthwait addressed his infamous chair-burning stunt on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, saying “I was very destructive and running on fear. I got really frustrated that I could go on a talk show and do very well, but it wasn’t changing where I was, and I kinda got to the point where I was like ‘I don’t want to do these shows anymore.’ I was also influenced by Kaufman and, oddly enough, Prince,” who he witnessed set a contract on fire while on TV once before. While he was fined and required to do some fire-safety PSAs as payment, he clarifies that he was never banned from the show, and that Leno happily had him back in the studio for a skit the following week.
Goldthwait also shared a few heartfelt words about his old friend Robin Williams, who tragically took his own life in 2014. He emphasized how genuine a person Williams was, and says that he always tries to remember all his little experiences with Williams, not just the big stories. One that he shared was from his 50th birthday: “When I turned 50, he lived in San Francisco, so he called me to wish me a happy birthday, and then I walked into my house and he’s on the phone in my living room. He let me think he was in San Francisco, but he had flown down to surprise me, so those are the memories that I’ll always remember, the ones that keep him alive.”
This is just a sliver of the overall interview, and of course, the two comics at one point begin to wax philosophical while discussing the Argentine philosopher and writer Jorge Luis Borges and his concept of hell and the afterlife. To check out the whole conversation, subscribe to Modern Day Philosophers on iTunes, or check out the show’s website on Wednesday, March 22nd. While you wait, you can check out back episodes of the show, which feature legendary guests like Bill Burr, Marc Maron, Gilbert Gottfried, Doug Stanhope, Colin Quinn, Marty Allen, Lewis Black, and many, many more.