Three Great Things: Bobcat Goldthwait

The actor, comedian and director, whose new album Soldier for Christ is out now, chooses some personal favorites.

Three Great Things is Talkhouse’s series in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. To mark the release of Bobcat Goldthwait’s new comedy album, Soldier for Christ, which is out now through PGF Records, the legendary comedian, actor and director shared some of the things he loves most in life. — N.D.

Tom Kenny
I’ve known Tom Kenny almost my whole life, and I just love him. We’re both 60 now, and we’ve been friends for 54 years. I met him when we were six and in first grade. I had made a nun cry. I don’t know what I did to upset her, but she dragged me into Tom’s classroom, crying, “I can’t take him anymore.” Tom thought what I’d done was so cool, so he introduced himself at lunch. In the whole time I’ve known him, I don’t remember there ever being a time when we had nothing to say to one another. The two of us talk until we fall asleep, and we’ve been like that since the moment we met.

We both liked all the same stuff from an early age; he’s my Star-Bellied Sneetch. We were always laughing, trying to figure out why we were mad at the world. We were middle-class white kids who had a pretty good ride, but the world moved too slow for us. Even as really young kids, we were interested in going to art house theaters so we could see Monty Python films and The Producers and sneaking into Pink Flamingos. He has always been a big reader, especially science fiction and comic books, and exposed me to story. He’s definitely influenced me in so many ways, and him making me laugh is probably why I became a director.

I live in Illinois now, so when I go to Los Angeles, I stay in Tom’s guest house. If people ask, “Where are you?” I’ll reply, “I can’t say, but I’m in a pineapple under the sea.” We just directed me in an animated project, and he’s the funniest person I’ve ever worked with. I’ve worked with great directors over the years, including Richard Donner, but he gave me the best direction I’ve ever had. Normally, especially in animation, I just do my ’80s persona, but Tommy was talking me through all these different aspects of the character and actually got new stuff out of me. I learned from Tom that you don’t become a better tennis player playing with someone worse than you, and having him around has always sharpened my comedic axe.

My Fiskar’s Axe
I really love my Fiskar’s axe. It changed my life, because I’d been using other axes up until then, and it’s designed for splitting wood, not chopping down trees. I love chopping wood and I’ve been doing it now for three years, as long as I’ve lived in Illinois. Sometimes I’ll be on a Zoom call and will think, “Man, I can’t wait for this to wrap up so I can go chop some wood with my axe …” I live on two acres and at least a quarter of the property is woods that have never been cleared out, so there’s all these old widowmaker trees.

Some of my friends are worried about me and say, “Bobcat shouldn’t have a chainsaw. He shouldn’t have an axe.” In fairness, chopping wood so much is probably why I blew out my shoulder recently and had to have shoulder replacement surgery. The surgeon told me, “This is the kind of injury you see in athletes,” which everyone found hilarious. I’m not an athlete, but I can’t wait until my shoulder is fully healed and I can get back to chopping wood. And just to be clear, “chopping wood” is not a euphemism for something!

I think I love chopping wood because when I’m doing it, I’m not thinking about anything else except chopping wood. And if I’m not focused on the task at hand, I could lose a foot. So much of the stuff I do – going on stage and telling jokes, making movies – isn’t a tangible activity. But when I’m chopping wood, there is a direct response – it’s a physical thing that’s happening.

If I post a video to promote a gig and I make a joke or do something silly, people don’t pay that much attention. But if I say that same thing while I’m chopping wood, it gets a million likes and people start discussing the video, telling me what I posted wasn’t the first take, or talking smack. They analyze my woodchopping form like it’s a golf swing. But at the end of the day, I didn’t knock a ball into a hole, there’s actually a big pile of firewood by my house. And in the evening, I’ll be sitting with a cigar and a cup of Joe by the fireplace. It’s really hard to beat that.

My Mini Taylor Guitar
I love sitting around with old friends and laughing – that’s my favorite thing. And my mini Taylor guitar is intertwined with that. It isn’t a flashy guitar, but it plays really well and is better than all the other guitars I have. The reason it’s my favorite guitar that I own, though, is because it has real sentimental value for me.

On my 50th birthday, a bunch of friends were over and we were having a really good time, people playing guitars and singing. Eric Idle, who has been a good friend for a million years, thought the guitar he was playing that night was shit. So he came by the next day and left a guitar at my door, and the guitar he left was the mini Taylor. It was a very sweet gift and I play it all the time. Wherever I live, it’s always nearby, so I can pick it up and noodle on it.

It has the cachet of being given to me by Eric Idle, but more importantly, it reminds me of my 50th birthday party and the people who were there: Robin Williams, Tom Kenny, Peter Asher, Eric Idle and a couple of other friends. Those memories are very dear to me. The day I turned 50, I was pulling into my house and Robin called me and said, “I can’t make it to your birthday …” And then I opened up the door, and he was there in my house!

My friend Dan Spencer had given me a little helicopter that said “Fuck” on it. When I shot it up in the air, it went right into my neighbor’s yard. I went to knock on the door and said, “I think there’s a ‘Fuck’ of mine in your backyard.” He gave it back to me and excitedly said, “I can’t believe you live next door to me!” On the helicopter’s second flight, I shot it up in the air and it went right back to the same guy’s yard. Because the guy was excited to meet me, I said, “Robin, you go over there and get it.” Robin did, and the guy’s mind was blown.

Bobcat Goldthwait’s new comedy album, Soldier for Christ, is out now via PGF Records. He is no stranger to entertainment and is one of the most recognizable comedians in show business today. Bobcat’s stand up features hilarious riffs on politics, divorce, going broke and his career as a writer and director. His recent films include the acclaimed Barry Crimmins documentary Call Me Lucky, found-footage film Willow Creek, black comedy God Bless America and World’s Greatest Dad, starring Robin Williams.