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Bobcat Goldthwait speaks about career, directing style

Filmmaker and comedian Bobcat Goldthwait kept audiences laughing Friday afternoon during an appearance at IU Cinema as part of the Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture Series.

Two of Goldthwait’s films, the 2011 dark comedy “God Bless America” and the 2013 horror film “Willow Creek,” screened at the Cinema Thursday night.

His visit was co-sponsored by the Comedy Attic, where he performed four stand-up shows during the weekend.

During his interview-style talk at IU Cinema, Goldthwait discussed his childhood, the history of his career and his current and future projects.

“His comedies make you laugh, but they also make you question, which I think sets him apart from other comedy directors today who often go for easy laughs and cheap sentimentality,” said James Paasche, a doctoral student who oversaw the lecture.

Goldthwait began his career doing stand-up comedy as a teenager in Syracuse, N.Y., with his childhood friend Tom Kenny, a successful voice-over actor best known as the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants.

“I was really drawn to him because he was funny, and he drawn to me because I could make nuns cry,” Goldthwait said of Kenny.

Goldthwait transitioned from comedy to acting in the 1980s when he appeared in several movies, including three films in the “Police Academy” series.

He made his directorial debut in 1992 with “Shakes the Clown” and later ventured into television directing, where he worked on programs such as “Chappelle’s Show” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

“I should have known that directing was what I always wanted to do because whenever I would go to a movie\ I would always read who directed it before I knew what the movie was about,” Goldthwait said.

In 2006, his film “Sleeping Dogs Lie” was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic Features category at the Sundance Film Festival.

“It changed the whole trajectory of my life,” he said.

A distinct aspect of Goldthwait’s directing style is his frequent use of comedians as actors, which he said comes down to a comfort and trust level.

“They bring extra stuff to it, like when they ad lib or change a line,” Goldthwait said. “I welcome that. I like it to be a collaborative process.”

After the interview, audience members had the opportunity to ask Goldthwait questions.

When asked if he would return to acting, Goldthwait said he is happy in his current position as a director.

“Just telling stories is enough for me,” he said. “I love telling stories, and I truly love making movies.”

Follow reporter Rachel Osman on Twitter @rachosman.

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