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A Comedic Mind-Meld with Old Pals Dana Gould and Bobcat Goldthwait

By Lee Valentine Smith

For second leg of their "Show With Two Heads" tour, comedy veterans Dana Gould and Bobcat Goldthwait are heading south to shoot a new special. After a warm-up gig at the Hollywood Improv, the duo will take the show on the road as they film a new special at Relapse in Atlanta, The 40 Watt in Athens and The Mothlight in Asheville.

Both comics emerged from the tough Boston scene and eventually headed west to hone their crafts - performance artist-writer-director Goldthwait with his unhinged 'persona' character (long shelved in favor of his actual speaking voice) and Gould as a busy stand-up, writer and producer. For this tour, they'll share the stage for an evening that highlights their sharp improvisational skills and enduring friendship.

INsite spoke with Gould from his home in Los Angeles.

The last time you and Bobcat were in town, you both played separate engagements at the Laughing Skull. This time you've chosen Relapse.

We wanted to differentiate this show from a show we'd do at Laughing Skull. We're filming, so we needed a little more room. Nothing against the Skull, I love those guys and I'll be back there soon.

You and Bob have been friends since the '80s.

A long time. Longer than we'd care to mention in print, actually. We both started out in Boston, we're both from very similar economic backgrounds, we like the same music and the same movies. We've just always seemed to run in the same circles. We both even had comedy-horror shows on around the same time. Last year, I had a show on IFC called Stan Against Evil and Bob had a show on truTV called Misfits and Monsters [shot in Georgia]. So we're kinda like the Alfred Hitchcock and William Castle of cable horror-comedy. Since we're friends, we said, 'We should do a tour.' Because if you live in L.A. you never get to see each other. Originally, we did some dates just as an excuse to hang out.

This isn't the typical dual-headliner-type show.

Yeah, when it started out, we'd both come out for a few minutes then we'd flip a coin as to who would go first and second. But the part where we're both onstage together got longer and longer. Finally we just decided to stay on the whole time. We both know our itineraries so well, it just starts off in a certain place and then leads through a conversation. It's really organic; there are certain bits that we know we're probably going to do - but how we get there is different every night.

So you're filming three separate nights to capture it all.

Yeah we'll be filming in Atlanta, Athens and Asheville. So there'll be different backgrounds.

That could be a nightmare for continuity. Are you going to wear the same clothes for three nights in a row?

That's a good question. You know, I probably will just to make it easier. But if you look at a show like that Chris Rock special where he filmed it in different locations, anything that takes you out of the content of the material can be jarring. But in the end, no one really cares about your wardrobe, it's really what you're saying that matters.

As a performer with a busy stand-up schedule and a podcast, are you faced with more pressure to create and continually turn out new material?

Well there's nothing like a deadline to help you finish a project. But normally for me, every 15 months or so, I like to have a new set. So there's pressure to create but that's actually kinda good. I think it really takes about two years to nail down a good, solid hour. Woody Allen once said the amount of mental energy it takes to write an hour of standup is equivalent to writing a novel. And I'd say that's probably true. You want it to be good. It's interesting being on stage with Bob because we know each other's stuff so we'll remind ourselves, 'Hey, you left out a part of your story,' or, 'Do that one about whatever.' So it's actually a challenge for us both because there's no set list involved in this at all. But I know when he starts a topic where he's probably going. So if he's going there, then I can go here.

Just like a couple of jazz musicians, going for it.

Yeah but without the black ties and skinny cigarettes.

Maybe you should try that outfit in Athens. That would be hilarious.

(Laughs) Oh, good idea! I'll run that by Bob. We'd be like the Blues Brothers. It would also solve the wardrobe problem.

In that tough Boston comedy scene of the '80s, you couldn't just post a YouTube clip and expect an audience to come see the show. You had to work the clubs and then try to get on television.

Yeah in those days, the way for comedians to break through was Carson, Letterman or an HBO special. Those were the three ways and that was pretty much it. Now the talk shows don't really have any impact on your stand-up career. It's just Netflix specials and podcasts.

I know you're a fan of horror and fantasy and I'm glad to see that you're in a new episode of Creepshow [scheduled for streaming via AMC's Shudder in September].

Yeah, I've been good friends with Greg Nicotero forever. He produced the show and of course he produced The Walking Dead. He called me up one day and asked if I wanted to do something on the show. I was like, 'Sure but how much do I have to pay you?' I was super excited to do it and you know because of Stan Against Evil, I sort of straddle all those worlds.

Right, there's a definite crossover appeal between comedy and horror.

Oh yeah and I am well-versed in horror. In fact, I'm writing a new horror film right now. The genres are definitely very connected. It's a good world to sort of ping-pong back and forth, to and from. There's a lot of crossover fans for both and a lot of horror is black humor, so it all works out.

Since you'll be in town to shoot a new special, I want to ask you about the current comedy special mindset. Do you think there are too many of them at this point? Has the market been over-saturated yet?

Well, I don't know really. I think it's pretty much not for me to say. I tend not to watch them because I don't want to be influenced by them. Also at this point, it's kinda like brining work home. I have three kids and two full-time jobs so if I'm going to watch television, I'm probably not going to watch something that's related to work. I'd rather see a good monster film or one of those great 'nature gone amok' movies from the early '70s.

Dana Gould and Bobcat Goldthwait bring "The Show With Two Heads" to Atlanta's Relapse on Thursday, August 15, The 40 Watt in Athens on Friday, August 16 and The Mothlight in Asheville on Saturday, August 17. Showtime is 8 p.m.

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