The Pitch: Your stand-up has obviously evolved from a character into work that more closely resembles the actual you — do you still consider your standup to be storytelling, just a little more natural now?
Goldthwait: Oh definitely, yeah, more than ever. I enjoy that more than acting crazy, or celebrity bashing. It’s hopefully me, I mean I don’t really lie too much in my act. Occasionally just a little bit [laughs], but most of it is the truth.
How much are you on the road anymore?
I’m out on the road a fair amount. I just did the Gathering of the Juggalos. I went to the Melbourne Film Festival last week, and the Gathering of the Juggalos. I also did 'Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me’. So I’m on NPR and I’m down with the clowns.
What was the Juggalo crowd like?
It’s funny you know. I opened for Nirvana, and I’ve done things like the Harley Fest and I’ve performed for bikers and stuff and I have to say it was — the crowd was very receptive. One of the reviews I saw said 'Nobody threw shit at him’, so I guess they liked me. Upchuck the Clown got smashed in the head with a bottle of Faygo, and he was my opening act before we went onstage, and he seemed pretty fucked up by it, actually [laughs].
A couple of quick questions about God Bless America. A lot of [the main character] Frank’s problems seem to stem from the idea that people have no shame anymore, and that people would rather have a few moments of fame than dignity. Do you think that culturally that’s a permanent situation or can we turn that clock back?
Hmm. I think yeah, I do think that it’s really weird that the idea of shame seems to be disappearing. I think that the genie is out of the bottle. I don’t imagine how you could introduce shame back in to the culture. It’s easier to deal with a Jerry Springer kind of culture, it’s soundbyte sensationalism. For some reason, that’s more comforting than watching the actual news.
Do you find that foreign audiences like and relate to the film either in that it reinforces their feelings about the United States or are there aspects that any culture can relate to?
I have been surprised by how it plays in other countries, but I guess it does play well in other countries because our culture is kind of forced on them so they’re aware of it. It was kind of weird to be in Melbourne where My Super Sweet Sixteen hasn’t played, you know, and they still got it but they actually thought it was a parody that I came up with.
That scene was basically word-for-word like the real show, with the kid not liking the car her parents bought for her.
Yeah, they didn’t get that that was a real thing. That happened on a lot of the episodes. I have been accused of being anti-American, but pointing out our faults and hoping for us to be better is very American. I did want the movie to be reflective. But, at the same point it’s a really strange time to live in.
You’ve said before that you wanted to get off of the hamster wheel of show business, where people are always just after the next project. Do you think you’ve been able to find a balance that you’re happy with?
Yeah, I keep making these strange movies on my own terms so I’m pretty happy. One of the great things about the digital age, even though I sound like an old guy for saying that, is the fact that I can just grab a camera and some friends and go make a movie. I just did it, I made a movie a few weeks ago. A bigfoot movie, but I’ve also been working on this other movie for a long time with Ray Davies from the Kinks about one of their albums from the '70s. I have a feeling that one will finally get going next year.
That’s the one about Schoolboys in Disgrace? Do you relate to the little boy in that story? [The album is about a boy who gets in trouble at school and is publicly punished by his headmaster].
Yeah, I totally do. If you’re a kid who has a lot of energy and imagination you are often told that you’re bad. I can totally relate to that. I love that record and Ray is a hero, so at least now I can talk to him without sweating as much when he’s around. I don’t know if you saw him but he was in the closing ceremonies of the Olympics and they pulled him up in a limousine and he played "Waterloo Sunset."
I didn’t see that part I guess. I saw some of the more bizarre acts they had on there. Madness and Jessie J... .
Yeah, I think it was insane. The opening was England’s salute to erections with all of those things shooting out of the ground.