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Bobcat on Bigfoot

The comic-turned-director is full of surprises


"Bobcat should try to make time for more stand-up gigs. He's clearly still got it." "HOLY SHIT he's still got it, brutal stuff!"

Just two opinions, from YouTube commenters, after watching a clip of Bobcat Goldwaith's stand-up routine at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. The sense that "he's still got it" might indicate that Goldthwait was thought to have lost it. When he performs at Boise's Liquid Lounge Friday, Aug. 16, and Saturday, Aug. 17, however, expect to see a man who not only still has it but has taken "it" a big(foot) step further.

Goldthwait is best known by many for the semi-demented personae he perfected in the early '80s as a stand-up, regularly appearing on late-night television and on Comic Relief, an annual televised charity event benefiting the homeless in Los Angeles. He even parlayed the long-haired wild-man character into Zed--a gang leader-turned-cadet--in some of the Police Academy movies. Now, the 50-something comic is bald and usually sports a driving cap and glasses. He is clearly not what people expect. Goldthwait often opens a stand-up set with, "You don't look the same either," using that phrase as the title of his 2012 comedy special.

Even more surprising than his appearance, though, is the breadth of Goldthwait's offstage work, as a director, in the past decade. Goldthwait directed Jimmy Kimmel Live for about six years, directed several episodes of Comedy Central's Important Things with Demetri Martin, directed some episodes of IFC's Maron, and recently helmed Patton Oswalt's upcoming Comedy Central stand-up special. In the 2000s, Goldthwait directed several offbeat, dark comedies, including Windy City Heat, Sleeping Dogs Lie, World's Greatest Dad and God Bless America. His latest, Willow Creek, is currently making film festival rounds and is probably his biggest step in a different direction--not only from his early stand-up, but from the canon of his film creations: Willow Creek is a found-footage film about Bigfoot. And although it is not without humor, Willow Creek, is definitely a horror movie.

"It's a scary movie. It's a departure from my other movies. There's comedy in the beginning but then it goes pretty straight-up horror," Goldthwait told Boise Weekly.

Willow Creek, which was shot on location, is about a couple who hikes into the remote woods near the small hamlet of Willow Creek, Calif., searching for the site of the famous Patterson/Gimlin footage--the few seconds of grainy film showing a giant, hairy man-like creature walking through the trees.

Comparisons to Blair Witch Project are inevitable. Found-footage is a well-trod genre and Goldthwait's film contains the standard ingredients: young people, scary place, mythical creature. Goldthwait said he knows the found-footage format is kind of played out, but his take on it is different.

"I only have 67 edits in this movie," Goldthwait said. "Usually you have 1,200-1,400 in a movie, but I wanted it to feel like they really were just turning the camera on and off."

Goldthwait also included something he felt was missing from other movies in the genre.

"I think sometimes in found-footage movies, they don't concentrate too much on the chemistry of the [characters]. And that was really important to me--that you believe these are real people," he said.

That authenticity was important to Goldthwait, which might be an odd thing to consider in the context of Bigfoot, but makes perfect sense considering Goldthwait's longtime love of the legend.

"I took a Bigfoot vacation," Goldthwait said, with no trace of irony. "I actually put 1,400 miles on my car just driving around to all the famous Bigfoot sites in California. And when I got to [the community of] Willow Creek, I was kind of thinking of a different movie. But when I got to WIllow Creek, this just seemed to be the movie to make because of the people I met there. And I found the town very interesting.

"The other thing was, I always wanted to try my hand at a suspense movie. I'm always jealous when I watch a Tarantino movie and you're at the edge of your seat most of the time and there's nothing going on. I'm like, 'How do you do that? How do you make suspenseful stuff?' That was my goal."

Reviews of Willow Creek would indicate Goldthwait achieved his goal. called it "the monster movie of the summer," adding that the film is "a unique representation of the tension between those who scoff at the Bigfoot legend and others willing to accept the mythology as gospel." said Goldthwait's film "is a refreshingly matter-of-fact horror/thriller ... a calm, cool, creepy little winner."

While Goldthwait has no plans to retire from stand-up, it's anyone's guess what Willow Creek may mean for his career. Regardless of what happens, he has a new subject to mine for stand-up material and, in making the film, Goldthwait learned something about himself.

"[The vacation] was a gift to the 8-year-old me," Goldthwait said. " I've always been fascinated by [Bigfoot] and what it represents and how it shows up over and over again in so many different cultures. And it took me a while to realize it, but I like the outdoors. If you go looking for Bigfoot and you don't find him, the byproduct is you went camping."