As a film director and stand-up comedian, Bobcat Goldthwait told me toward the end of our interview, his next project will be the “narrative version” of his documentary Call Me Lucky, which detailed the life of the late Barry Crimmins. In fact, it’s one of many projects that currently fill his plate — and a theme that quickly became apparent throughout our conversation. Goldthwait loves to work. He loves to be busy. And as it turns out, breaking out into the wider world of television with an anthology series is just the way to keep one’s plate filled.
Hence Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits & Monsters, a new anthology series on truTV premiering tonight at 10 pm ET. Best described as a mix of horror, comedy and science fiction — or a funnier, less depressing take on Charlie Brooker’s hugely popular Black Mirror — Goldthwait’s new show is something the 56-year-old creator has been dreaming up for the better part of the last decade. Now it’s here, and he really hopes audiences like it — even if, as the tried-and-true comic admits, each episode goes out of its way (by design) to alienate viewers before attempting to reel them back in.
This show feels like something you’ve been preparing to do for a very long time.
The idea of going out and doing an anthology show came to me about seven years ago. I went out and pitched it at a few studios and it went over like a bad fart, so it was definitely questionable if they were even going to validate my parking. Because people would say, “What would you like to do as a TV show?” And I’d be like, “I want to do an anthology show.” They’d ask, “What else would you like to do?” — but that was it. That’s what I wanted to do.
To be honest, I wasn’t really looking for a job in television. These stories are not even the stories that I originally went out with. I write a lot of screenplays and I write a lot all the time. There are like eleven more outlines for this show, and two more scripts. I just write a lot of stuff, and if doing a TV show meant an anthology series and that I could tell a lot of different stories, that’s great. What’s fulfilling for me is to ask, “Can I mix up these two genres? Can I pull it off?” There’s a time traveling one that is very much like a Jerry Lewis movie, but it’s set around JFK’s assassination. So I ask myself again, “Can I pull this off? Can I have Jerry Lewis be in Dealey Plaza? Can you still empathize and care about these characters?”
That is one hell of an ask, but from the creative side of things, it makes perfect sense to ask it.
That’s always the challenge. Even all the movies I’ve made, it’s always been, “Can you empathize with these protagonists that usually do very messed up things? At the end, are you still engaged with and concerned about them?” I don’t want to manipulate audiences by making that the case. Even in my stand-up, I go up there and say something off, then spend the rest of the time digging myself out of the hole. That’s usually how my movies start, like with Joel Murray’s character shooting a baby in God Bless America. It happens in a fantasy, but that’s still a big one to get an audience past.
Or, consider a rom-com with a tiny bit of bestiality? “Are you still going to care about our female lead?” That’s the challenge. That, and taking two different genres and smashing them together. That’s been around since Shakes the Clown, the movie where I was kind of making fun of something like The Lost Weekend and the pretentiousness of stand-up comedians. Then I made it into a clown noir film. I’ve always done this. Sometimes people are on board, and other times they’re very confused about why I’m doing this at all. They’re all different. One’s just a scary Bigfoot movie. That’s it. There’s no twist. I wanted to see if I could pull it off, because I always like it in a Tarantino movie where you’re at the edge of your seat and nothing’s going on. There’s just three characters and sometimes you don’t see one of them.
I’m always wondering if I can make the suspension believable. With Misfits & Monsters, each episode is basically me asking, “Can I do this?” That’s what keeps me engaged as a storyteller, and I just go, “Well, of course we can do this!” I’ve said the “Bubba the Bear” episode is basically Cape Fear and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Though I think it might actually be more of the darker side of Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract.”