Like many of the kids in my generation, I was partially raised by television. There was always a nice gap of time between when school ended and when my parents came home, and I took full advantage of it, cramming in as much TV as I could handle. Lucky for me, that timeslot was often full of Just For Laughs re-runs, which meant that I got to watch ten years of stand up comedy, over and over and over, whenever school was out.

I’d see the same comics do the same sets month after month, but I somehow never got bored of them, and after a while, a few of them naturally became my favourites. Amongst these was the great strange character of the early 90s known as Bobcat Goldthwait.

A classic moment in talk show history. Image ©NBC

A classic moment in talk show history.
Image ©NBC

If you’re unfamiliar with Bobcat, well, he was a loud guy with a strange voice, who looked disheveled all the time. On the JFL special in question, he has too much eyeliner, and is wearing a white t-shirt with “Kill Seinfeld” written on it with a sharpie – at least, that’s what I remember. I can’t seem to locate that image now. He became well-known as the guy who set Jay Leno’s chair on fire (as pictured above), so that anecdote was in his bit, which I always enjoyed. As a kid, I couldn’t believe that someone would have the balls to do something like that, but as an adult, I understand that that was the point. Bobcat was being a shocky comic, one of those “out there” personas that I seem drawn to. It really worked back then, but that type of thing couldn’t possibly last, right?

Correct! The wild, crazy Bobcat of the 90s is no more. Goldthwait really found his voice in direction, as he went on to direct Jimmy Kimmel Live, as well as a few movies along the way to 2014, most of which he also wrote. Among these is an absolute gem called God Bless America (trailer below) which is well worth throwing into your Netflix cue – it’s a bloody good time.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h21WENDSkyU&w=560&h=315]

However, if you do end up on Netflix, and you think to yourself “Hey, there’s also a special by this Bobcat guy, maybe I should check it out!” then please, for the love of all that is holy, heed this warning: that hour is one of the worst comedy specials I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching. It’s got 20-year-old bits, all of its hits are misplaced, and Goldthwaite just keeps pulling the “I shouldn’t have said that” face, and following it with copious facepalms. I suppose it was a last-ditch effort at doing comedy again, but it was not a successful one. Bobcat Goldthwaith’s place is truly behind the camera, and I’m hoping he stays there.

-Al

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