Back to IndieWire

Bobcat Goldthwait on Turning Docmaker for ‘Call Me Lucky’: “I Hope I Do Well By My Friend”

Bobcat Goldthwait on Turning Docmaker for 'Call Me Lucky': "I Hope I Do Well By My Friend"

“I want to prove F. Scott Fitzgerald wrong,” Bobcat Goldthwait told
me, “that there are no second acts.” Not only has he directed seven
films over the past decade, but he had a blast directing
“Community.” “Call Me Lucky,” his third Sundance debut and first documentary, is a profile of standup comic Barry Crimmins. 
Goldthwait’s
last fiction film “Willow Creek” was a found footage Bigfoot movie with
the filmmaker “interviewing actual folks in a town and putting them in a
suspense scary buffet movie.”
So it was
natural that he should go full documentary for “Call Me Lucky,” which
started with Goldthwait’s best friend of 33 years, Robin Williams (he
still gets teary
when his name comes up), who was trying to make a scripted narrative
movie about Crimmins. “It seemed like it was hard to get going that
way,” said Goldthwait back at Sundance. “So Robin suggested we make it as a documentary
and we started filming last February. So it’s kind of fitting that we’re
premiering at the same theater as ‘World’s Greatest Dad.’ I hope to do
well by my friend.
“Barry was a
fascinating comedian and because he was a political satirist he
influenced a lot of people,” said Goldthwait. “I knew that his story was
compelling. As an adult who had dealt with child abuse and come out the
other side he became a survivor’s advocate for people abused sexually.
In the early 80s, Barry openly challenged AOL which allowed child
pornography in chat rooms. He posed as a kid, and debated them on the
floor of Senate. After getting evidence sent to him he took them to
task, changed their way of doing business. It’s a fascinating story
where one man goes against a giant machine.”
Goldthwait saw a shift in Crimmins while he dealt with his own abuse,
he said. “I personally witnessed him getting some peace. I always
considered him to be a bit of a curmudgeon. Once he was able to remove
some of his demons, it affected him positively on personal level, which
went on to change a lot of people’s lives.”
“I
knew I always wanted to make a movie about him, not a doc,” said
Goldthwait. “We both tried different versions, but the scope was too
large, it lent itself more to having people tell his story. He’s very
powerful in the movie onstage performing.” Goldthwait includes old
career clips and interviews, and films Crimmins returning to the
basement where he was raped when he was four. “I did not want him to do
it,” said Goldthwait. “But he says, ‘you go through the problem, not
around it.’ He felt he didn’t want it to be a shrine to something evil.
He wanted it to no longer have any energy pr any power, it’s just a
basement.”
Crimmins helped Goldthwait to give up drinking:
“Barry’s a hard drinker— I never felt he was an alcoholic. I felt a
piece of him missing, there was pain or a void in him, that was the
thing. Without Barry I wouldn’t have gotten my start in comedy. He
molded me as a man, to try to be responsible and do the right thing. He
was the one that got me sober at 19. It was Barry’s lack of judging me
and genuine concern that helped me to come to terms at such an early
age. After the transformation after taking AOL to the Senate he seemed
to not have as much pain in his life. He was always doing the right
thing. Barry has always been anti-bully, he was sticking up for the
little guy.”
There’s sadness and laughter in “Call Me Lucky,” as
well as fellow comedians Patton Oswald, Marc Maron and Margaret Cho. “I
wanted the audience to know it was a heavy topic,” Goldthwait said,
“But I hope they find it entertaining. Barry tweets the Pope every day
trying o get excommunicated. I was trying to do a doc that was hopefully
entertaining and funny tell a bigger story. As Barry says, victims of
abuse should tell someone, tell everyone.”

“Call Me Lucky”
is different from his other films, he said, “in that I made a movie on a
subject bigger than me. It has my tone in it, despite the dark subject
matter. It’s really about something. This happened to one of my oldest
friends who turns out to be a real live genuine hero and I wanted to
make a movie about it.” 

This Article is related to: Interviews and tagged ,