Bobcat Goldthwait: Telling the Tales

Telling the Tales

Bobcat Goldthwait dives into stories from his career at stand-up shows this weekend at Hyena’s Comedy Night Club in Dallas and Fort Worth.

published Friday, April 5, 2013

Bobcat Goldthwait has a lot of stories, very funny stories, unprintable stories, lucky-to-be-alive stories. Stories from gigs with hard rock and raps groups that make your eyelids roll back. Since he started performing at 15, at age 50 he has 35 years of stories. He was on national television by 20, so there are plenty of high-living stories, in dual senses of the word “high.” Many of these he shared at his Thursday show at Hyena’s Dallas, where he continues with two shows Friday night, and then moves to Hyena’s Fort Worth on Saturday.

But that’s the deal: 45 years. Bobcat has maintained success as a performer for more than four decades, all based on being on the edge and almost out of control. OK, maybe “almost” isn’t the right word. He did set fire to The Tonight Show couch after all. (With his squeaky voice, Bobcat does a pitch-perfect impression of Jay Leno.) And there was that time that Bobcat spray-painted profanities on The Arsenio Hall Show set. The ‘80s era was a heady time for many.

In the last decade, Bobcat has made his name as a director, from the fast-paced multi-camera milieu of Jimmy Kimmel Live, to the low budget black comedyof Shakes the Clown. His movies like Sleeping Dogs Lie and Windy City are dark and bloody even for independent films. Even his most mainstream release, World’s Greatest Dad with his longtime pal Robin Williams, was disturbing and perhaps a little too insightful into the mind of Bobcat.

Stories from his cinematic ventures were the highlight of Bobcat’s set on Thursday. He’s a contrarian to the core. Don’t be like a singer for Nickelback and demand Bobcat not to shoot you in profile. Or your live video will end with a close-up montage of your huge schnozz from every possible angle. It’s all in the telling and Bobcat’s breathless, exasperated style lends itself to tales of wanton mischief.

Fans from every slice of Bobcat’s career were present: tattooed bikers, tarted women, rock and rollers, independent film buffs, and in general people who like things a little on the edge. “It’s a really weird mix of young and old and I like it,” he said from the stage. Indeed we sat between a 20-something couple and one in their 70s. Stories are eternal.

Most of the set was loose and rambling, rife with tangents, while being fast-paced enough that it didn’t much matter. No doubt the stories will vary each night, but the finale will probably remain. On an airplane when a main engine blew, with the plane hurtling toward an airport crash landing, Bobcat discovered that a preternaturally calm pilot’s voice really doesn’t help. It’s a polished and hilarious bit that’s right on the line since it involves a Special Olympics kid’s reactions, but is ultimately embracing.

A few great Bobcat lines:

About his heart attack: People kept tell me “Laughter is the best medicine.” F___ that! Nitroglycerin is the best medicine.

Growing up Catholic: That’s why I’m not on reality shows. I was raised with shame.

On why he’s touring: There’s a connection with a live audience. [pause] Uh, no. I’m broke people. This is the alimony tour.

Watching Grover on The Muppet Show: Hey, that’s where I got my act!


Chris Lehman was the set-up act. He described himself as “6”1’, medium build, white, brown hair, brain eyes,” so basic that if he ever went missing, no one could find him. Actually he’s a chameleon: at times long haired, short haired, clean shaven, scruffy and sporting on this night the strangest chin beard ever. Even with the meandering—he’s a slacker at heart—with his usual strong delivery and unique bent he turned in a solid set. But sometimes it seemed like he was going through a checklist of what he thought Bobcat audiences would want to hear: sex, drugs and violence, plus jokes about fat people and black people (which were deftly punchy and not bigoted in any way).

Ryan Perrio was a strong emcee and opening act. He’s got a Richard Lewis look and angst-filled delivery, but far more linear and less exhausting to watch. His sense of self-depreciation is deep. If his identity was stolen, it wouldn’t be by an identity thief, but an identity hero. His routine on the relationship styles, worldviews and attitudes of GPS units (“I should have been an iPod.”) is now lively and enacted. The routine on class consciousness of apartment parking-lot gates has enhanced notably in a very short time, enlivened with a bit on drunk dialing his way through one night. Perrio anthropomorphizes things in such a fun way.

? Bobcat Goldthwait performs at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, April 5 at Hyena’s Comedy Night Club in Dallas; and 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6 at Hyena’s Comedy Night Club in Fort Worth.


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