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Still a wild and crazy guy

(ran TP edition)

Comic Bobcat Goldthwait has built his career on spontaneity. It seems to have worked.

Bobcat Goldthwait's ability to provide audiences with the unexpected has both hindered and sustained his career.

Few can forget the night in 1994 he set ablaze Jay Leno's guest chair during an appearance on The Tonight Show. Six years later, fans and reporters forever remind Goldthwait of his stunt, though the hostility that resulted between the comic and Leno has long since settled.

"I was even invited back to the show, but I couldn't accept because of my schedule," he said by telephone from Los Angeles.

As Goldthwait returns to Tampa this weekend, his work remains within the semi-psychotic framework of his earlier years, but he says his audience shouldn't worry about Bobcat fatigue.

"I'm writing new stuff all the time," Goldthwait explains. "It's not because of the need to write. It's because I forget what I did before. I think it's my premature Alzheimer's."

His knack for spontaneity possibly cost him a regular spot on the new Hollywood Squares, from which he was recently fired.

"They said I was running hot and cold," Goldthwait said in a way that made clear his intention to make light of the situation. "I guess I wasn't tepid enough for them. I guess they wanted lukewarm."

Goldthwait is hardly wanting for work. The 38-year-old comic performs nearly every weekend at venues across the nation.

Television appearances include several HBO specials, an episode of Aaron Spelling's Safe Harbor and Fox's Mad TV, as well as guest spots on the Larry Sanders Show, ER, Married with Children and Politically Incorrect. His voice has also been featured in animated projects, including The Simpsons, Beavis and Butt-Head and the Disney series Hercules.

Goldthwait hosted his own game show on FX titled Bobcat's Big Ass Show and recently he filled a small role in Ted Demme's Blow, a soon-to-be-released movie about the rise of the popularity of cocaine in Hollywood, starring Johnny Depp and Paul Reubens, a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman, among others.

"I was in a room with Johnny Depp and Paul Reubens and started thinking, "Is there anyone in this thing that's not on probation?' "

Goldthwait's direction of the film, Shakes the Clown, was praised by famous director Martin Scorsese, but Goldthwait admits he will probably always be best known for his role as Zed in Police Academy 2, 3 and 4.

"If I had known then that I would be remembered for the Police Academy movies, I would have taken it a little more seriously."

Goldthwait is directing skits for Comedy Central's variety television series titled The Man Show, which boasts the fastest beer guzzler in the world and women jumping on trampolines. The series stars Adam Carolla, co-host of Loveline, and Jimmy Kimmel of Win Ben Stein's Money.

Goldthwait, who is engaged to be married and has two children from a previous marriage, says the show fits well with his sense of humor, and he's enjoying thoroughly the challenges that directing for television is offering him.

"Right now, I've got to figure out how to stretch a penis down a block."