Bobcat Goldthwait Vigorously Defends Director James Gunn, Recalls Heckling Lynyrd Skynyrd in the '80s

Scott Kowalchyk/CBS
Bobcat Goldthwait on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Aug. 2, 2018.

Bobcat Goldthwait made his bones on the stand-up comedy circuit in the 1980s with a bizarre act highlighted by his guttural, snorting delivery. But now that he's transitioned into a second act as an acclaimed indie auteur director, the 56-year-old has become a more serious man.

Just kidding. Goldthwait visited The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday night (Aug. 2), and from the moment he stepped on stage, it was just like the old days. Minus the screechy delivery, of course.

Wearing a light pink suit, 10-gallon white cowboy hat, tinted shades and sporting an impressive gray soul patch goatee, the delightfully anxious comedian told host Stephen Colbert that he was actually terrified to be on the show and considered running away at the last minute. However, he kept his cool long enough to launch into a hilarious story about the time he antagonized a crowd the most as a stand-up and offer his vociferous support for director pal James Gunn, who is the subject of controversy due to a series of distasteful tweets that were recently unearthed.

Fully aware that he's said some things that would not be considered PC in his act over the years, Goldthwait let loose on why he's angry that those old, admittedly not-funny jokes posted by Gunn years ago recently got the director fired from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. "I love James, he's a great man. These are tweets that weren't funny years ago, he's apologized for them," Goldthwait said. "If we're gonna start punishing artists and creative people for what they said 10-20 years ago (and have apologized for)...we're not going to have anybody left. It's gonna be [squeaky-clean comedian] Jim Gaffigan." 

Last week, Goldthwait asked Disney to remove his voice from an upcoming "World of Color" theme park attraction as a protest against the company's firing of Gunn from the franchise he has helped lift to massive global box office returns. "He's really being attacked not for something he said almost a decade ago, he's being attacked because he's very outspoken against the president and his administration," said Goldthwait, adding that he, too, is very outspoken about his distaste for the Trump White House.

It wasn't all political talk. The creator of the new Bobcat Goldthwait's Misfits & Monsters anthology series of TruTV also recalled a show in Atlanta back in the day when he let a heckler get the best of him in the most hilarious way. Someone at the show kept yelling "Freebird!" over and over, and Goldthwait said he finally lost his cool after his required stage time was up and snapped, "Listen, you ignorant hillbillies, Lynyrd Skynyrd's dead. They're dead, they're dead, they're dead. The South's not risin' again. The slaves have been emancipated. There's no chicken in the breadbasket pickin' out dough. And Lynyrd Skynyrd's dead." 

For context, members Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines, a backing vocalist and a road manager were killed in a plane crash in 1977. After his rant, Goldthwait saw these "wooly-lookin' biker dudes" climbing up onto the stage, with no hint that security was going to bail him out from what looked like a certain beat-down. The comic then noticed the men were wearing laminated passes that said "Lynyrd Skynyrd Survivors Tour," suddenly realizing that those wooly bikers were the surviving members of the band and that they had been sitting in the audience for the show. "They hadn't been yelling 'Freebird!' to bust my chops," he said. "They were trying to get Lynyrd Skynyrd's attention!"

Watch the full segment below.