Sasquatch: Comedy

Dispatches from the festival

If there’s one thing that comedians Bobcat Goldthwait and Craig Robinson have in common, it’s that they’ve both co-starred alongside John Cusack.

If there’s another, it’s that they both performed on the final day of the 2010 Sasquatch music festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington.

Comedians at a music festival. It’s an experiment Sasquatch organizers have been testing out since 2008. They’ve attracted such names as The Hangover star Zach Galifianakis, Saturday Night Live’s Horatio Sanz and the Ladies Man himself, Tim Meadows.

And judging by the turnout for—and response to—the two actors who’ve played second fiddle to Cusack nearly a quarter of a century apart, the experiment is a success. (Other comedians at this year’s Sasquatch were Parks & Recreation’s Aziz Ansari and SNL writer Hannibal Buress.)

Robert Francis Goldthwait, the wild-haired, crazy-voiced Cusack sidekick in 1986’s One Crazy Summer, took to the stage of the tented Rumpus Room as the mid-afternoon sun beat down.

The pudgy, 46-year-old man in checkered shirt and poor boy cap was not the same man who’d played Officer Zed in the Police Academy movies.

“I’m Bobcat Goldthwait,” he declared in a voice devoid of the nasal growl he was famous for. “You don’t look the same neither.”

Comedy Central’s 61st greatest comedian of all time kept the laughs coming with a deliberately offensive yet apologetic take on pop culture, politics—and poop.

And while he expressed concern about being able to connect with the young crowd, he had no trouble.
“How do I offend the generation that grew up with Two Girls and One Cup?”

His jokes on politics—ranging from Arizona’s immigration law (he’s okay with police asking for people’s ID, as long as the cops are Native Americans), to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (whose father and grandfather were Nazis: “If my dad was a better shot, there wouldn’t have been a Kindergarten Cop“), to gun control (he called hunting “a wilderness sausage party. Nine miles of cock and no witnesses”)—got few laughs from the 16-year-old Republican beside me.

But even she cracked up when he made jokes about Star Wars nerds not being able to pick vagina out from a police lineup alongside a donut and a mop, and Michael Jackson’s daughter’s speech at his funeral: “Of course he’s the best dad in the world. You’re a little GIRL.”

He seemed like he was trying a little too hard to be cool at times. But the punchline to his final joke became a kind of refrain for the final day of the festival. The “true story” was set on an airplane with a malfunctioning engine and featured the U.S. Special Olympics team, or “a really big hip-hop group with Down syndrome.” When the pilot announced that the plane would have to make an emergency landing and that crews, including a fire truck, would be on scene, a slow, excited voice spoke from the rear of the plane: “Fire truck?!”

Okay, so he looks different, but his humour hasn’t changed all that much.

Goldthwait wasn’t enamoured of the venue—”The Gorge is beautiful … if they take down that fucking stage”—but he didn’t count out making an appearance at a future music festival. After a joke about how he’d rather sleep with Johnny Depp than Rosie O’Donnell, he said: “I’m available for Lilith Fair.”

Better stick to Sasquatch, Bobcat.

The crowd packed the Rumpus Room shortly after to see Craig Robinson, who recently played Nick Webber, Cusack’s pussy-whipped, failed-musician buddy in the time-travel comedy Hot Tub Time Machine and is well known for his role as Dunder-Mifflin warehouse foreman Darryl Philbin on The Office.

After taking the stage like a heavyweight on his way to the ring with James Brown drowning out the crowd’s cheers, the Chicago native paid homage to his on-screen personas from behind a keyboard piano.

“What’s up Sasquatch?” he asked, before bending over the keys and pounding out an epic power-rock intro to “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” A few pounds heavier than when he first appeared with his keyboard on Def Comedy Jam in the mid-’90s, Robinson had the crowd in the palm of his hefty hand.

His face, which bore a sheen of sweat after the second song, went from Stevie Wonder’s O-face to Eddie Murphy’s stretched-out smile, as the crowd clapped to express that they were indeed happy, and they knew it.
He punctuated songs with Jack Black-like scat singing and interspersed them with quick, pithy jokes. After a Barry White song: “The average man has sex in five minutes. I don’t mean to brag … I can cut that in half.”
Robinson’s forte was songs about love, and songs about sex.

He led the crowd in a serenade of “the lovely ladies of Sasquatch” that included the recurring entreaty to “take your panties off.” “That should be in every song, shouldn’t it?” he asked, launching into a gospel song: “Take your panties off for Jesus!”

He covered songs you wouldn’t expect an indie-rock crowd to know the words to. But the sounds of singing, clapping and laughing drowned out the band on the nearby Bigfoot stage.

Other favourites included “All My Life” by K-Ci and JoJo and Simply Red’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” during which he complained about his girlfriend. “She answers the phone during sex. I’m gonna stop calling her.” He went on to say how she’d asked him once to lick her “booty hole,” which prompted a rendition of Meatloaf’s “I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

After he ran through his repertoire, he opened the stage up to questions. A girl asked if she could get his autograph for her mom. He brought her up on stage and after she undid her jeans, laid her down on the stage and took his time signing her bright pink panties. He stood her up and when she tried to give him a kiss on the cheek, started making out with her.

After the cheers died down, somebody said something to him from the side of the stage. “Her boyfriend’s here? He’s pissed?” he asked. “Na, he’s not.”

Not exactly highbrow humour either, but Cusack could learn a thing or two from him on how to handle the ladies.