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September 01, 2004

Reality Bites

September 01, 2004 Reality Bites

A stressed out person's guide to a funny evening at Tingle's — with Bobcat Goldthwait

by James Norton

I don't always have the chance to check out what's playing in and around Boston that I might be interested in. I managed to see Mamma Mia! with my family a few weeks ago and I had a better then expected time. Two weeks ago, my wife mentioned that Bobcat Goldthwait would be at Jimmy Tingle's and she really wanted to see him.

In true workaholic fashion, I dismissed the idea figuring it would be sold out and/or I'd be too busy with work. I then thought about it for a minute. Bobcat — the man most people remember from the Police Academy movies — I remember him from so much more than those three movies, I know there was four movies — he was only in three of them smart guy.

Of course I wanted to go, who was I kidding?

The show started with Jimmy saying hello and welcoming the crowd — being his friendly and affable self — and firing off a few jokes to get us warmed up. Then there was a video shown which was originally created for the Democratic Convention and Emily Singer came out after that for a shorter set than I was hoping for. She is very funny.

Next came a surprise guest — Tony V. Tony is a Boston Comedy legend — he burst onto the scene with the likes of Bobcat, Lenny Clarke and DJ Hazard in the early 80s, when Boston comedy ruled. I have seen Tony V a few times before, and true to form he had everyone in the room laughing hysterically. For those of you who don't know or can't remember, Tony V is a local guy who was once a mental health caseworker and was involved in Somerville politics a long time ago — before the comedy train hit him hard.

Then there was intermission. The crowd buzzed, anxiously awaiting Bobcat. Those of us who haven't seen him live in years wondered if he was still off his rocker or not.

Before I get into his set — which was thankfully longer than it was supposed to be —you should probably know more about the man whom you probably just barely remember.

His resume is impressive. Aside from "Police Academy", Bobcat has had memorable roles in "Scrooged", "Burglar" and he wrote and directed the cult classic "Shakes the Clown". He has appeared on numerous TV shows and had his own game show on FX entitled “Bobcat's Big Ass Show”. He has lent his voice to a Disney movie or two, "The Simpsons" and even "Beavis and Butthead". Do you remember when he lit the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on fire?

Recently, he was a regular on "Hollywood Squares", he directed an episode of "Chappelle's Show" and had a very memorable scene in Ted Demme's movie "Blow" with Johnny Depp. That's keeping pretty busy for a guy remembered mainly from the "Police Academy" series.

Now for the set. He came onto the stage as you would expect — loud and brash —the crazy old Bobcat voice grunting away with stinging and sometimes shocking punchlines. He ranted crazy stuff for a good 15 to 20 minutes, and then he started to "peel back the onion" as he put it. He became much more lucid and normal open about his life and showbiz experiences, even about his daughter — who was in the audience. It kept getting funnier and funnier.

Bobcat meshed with the audience unlike anything I expected with alacrity and a sense of wit that was so off the cuff, you began to understand that he is very well spoken and extremely intelligent.

He told us stories of the crazy days, some with Tony V — who was at this point sitting in the audience and lent a hand recalling experiences they shared over the years.

When Bobcat got to the whole "Tonight Show" incident and started in on the part of the story that was off camera that night, he was genuinely amazed that there was someone in the room who was there that night in the audience and saw it all.
It's been an interesting 22 years since he had his first TV appearance on Dave Letterman's show. Bobcat has moved on past the self destructive stage in his life, has kept busy and is still as funny as he ever was. Go buy his new CD entitled "I don't mean to insult you, but you look like Bobcat Goldthwait and laugh your ass off."