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Bobcat Goldthwait on personal responsibility and his “anti-dummy” movie, “God Bless America”

god bless america

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By Jennifer Vineyard

Bobcat Goldthwait is back behind the camera with his latest dark comedy, “God Bless America,” which is an indictment of stupidity, cruelty, and reality television, all of which inspire a killing spree when the lead character decides to shoot anyone and everyone he finds repellant.

“Some people think this is an anti-gun movie, but no, it’s an anti-dummy movie,” the director told IFC.

Frank (played by longtime Goldthwait collaborator Joel Murray) has an empty life, in which he’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness, lost his job and family, and watches way too much television, mostly to drown out the noise of a crying baby next door. When he sees the selfishness and ignorance he hates on reality shows echoed in real life, Frank decides to eradicate it whenever and wherever he encounters it — whether it means storming the stage of a music competition show in which the judges are making fun of a William Hung-like contestant or killing people who are talking on their cell phone at movie theater. Other targets include Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Jeff Foxworthy, and Michael Jackson.

“Some people will really go off if you even mention Michael Jackson,” Goldthwait said. “My take on the whole thing is that he was a perfect example of how people become ostriches. You’re never going to stop child abuse if you deny it. He was a very talented singer and dancer, but he clearly had a lot of problems. I mean, even if he hadn’t been inappropriate with children, I saw him dangle a baby out the window. That’s enough for me.”

In case you hadn’t guessed, Frank is a surrogate for Goldthwait to express his own frustrations. “I am Frank without the homicidal tendencies,” he said, laughing. “I am Frank in the sense that I have a naive view of the world, and I do wish people would be more nice and considerate.”

Goldthwait said that he made a decision about fifteen years ago “not to participate” in cruel jokes or behavior in his comedy, no matter how lucrative it might be. “It’s a stupid, dumb way to make a living,” he said. “While some comedians have material that transcends that, and makes some valid points, there’s just a ton who are only trying to continue their own fame, and I have no interest in doing that. It just seems pretty empty.”

But Goldthwait doesn’t expect any waves of self-recognition from the less nice or considerate in the audience who would be Frank’s targets.

“It’s a little late to retrain these people,” he said. “There are just some people who can’t apprehend how their actions affect other people, and that’s the world we live in. I blame Madison Avenue. And I also blame parents who maybe just clapped too hard when their kids pooped. They’re handing out trophies just because you were on a team.”

But without such people, Frank would have no excuse for his killing spree. Nor would he have an excuse if he just changed the channel or turned off the TV.

“He thinks he’s Holden Caufield with an AK-47,” Goldthwait said. “But here’s the thing: You could have a diet of listening only to NPR, or only watching stuff that you’d DVR-ed, so that you could control your intake. But you’re still going to know about Charlie Sheen’s breakdown. You might never watch anything related to Kim Kardashian, but you’re still going to know about her.”

“I don’t have hostility towards those people — they’re just attractive dummies,” he continued. “But I do have hostility with the people who are obsessed with them and their fame. I sometimes think, ‘Why do I need to know about this? I should get a dollar every time I hear Kim Kardashian’s name!'”

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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