If Bobcat Goldthwait were a teenager today, "I'd be a kid making web content with a camera somewhere. If I was a young man, I might have bypassed the whole comedian-actor thing and just been a filmmaker."
He pauses, chuckles, then says, "Then I'd probably have spent my whole life going, 'I wonder if I could have been a comedian.'"
He smiles -- an expression that is equal parts kindness and subversion. Sitting in the lobby lounge of the 92nd Street Y-Tribeca, he's a compact guy in a sweater, glasses and snap-brim cap -- a guy who could be somebody's dad (which he is). He's just answered questions after a screening of his film, God Bless America, and he's happy just to have gotten the chance to direct films at all.
"To make the films I want, I just have to live within my means and scale down my lifestyle -- and be with somebody who's cool with that," he says.
God Bless America, available on VOD, opened today in limited theatrical release. The film, Goldthwait's latest, is a brutally funny takedown of contemporary pop-culture. Inspired by what Goldthwait refers to as a marathon viewing of the reality show My Super Sweet 16, it attacks everything from obnoxious shock jocks to angry TV talkers to the entitlement society that too much reality TV and self-esteem training has bred.
From Glenn Beck to TMZ to American Idol, no one is safe from Goldthwait's razor-edged wit, which is informed by his unhappiness at the kind of things that pass for news in the world of the 24-hour news cycle. Indeed, he says, it seeps into our lives, whether we're interested or not.
"Every week there's a different equivalent of Charlie Sheen having a breakdown," Goldthwait, 49, says. "I knew about Kim Kardashian getting married -- and then getting divorced -- and there's no reason I should. I don't have hostility toward Kim Kardashian -- just toward the people who take that stuff seriously. Imagine being a grown adult and making a living reporting on the comings and goings of Snooki."
In fact, a TMZ camera crew showed up one night while Goldthwait was filming a scene from God Bless America and tried to goad him into making a scene of his own for their cameras by asking, "Bobcat, how does it feel to be a has-been?"
To which Goldthwait calmly replied, "Which is worse -- being a has-been or being the guy interviewing a has-been?"
Still, Goldthwait doesn't want people to misconstrue what he's saying:
This interview continues on my website.