Krist Novoselic: My Journey to World's Greatest Dad

Illustration by Krist Novoselic
Krist Novoselic's column on music and politics runs every Tuesday on Reverb. Check back on Friday when he writes about what he's been listening to.
As more people see the film World's Greatest Dad, I get messages about my cameo in it. It stars Robin Williams and is written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. I want to tell you about my experience with Bobcat and my unlikely opportunity to do a movie scene with Williams.

I first met Bobcat in 1990. Nirvana was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and before our show we did an interview at the local college radio station. To our surprise, there was Bobcat. I knew him as the crazy character from those Police Academy films. It was Kurt Cobain who had a more nuanced knowledge--he owned a vinyl copy of Meat Bob, Goldthwait's comedy record. He asked about our band, and he was an easygoing dude. But when he went live on the radio, he turned on and cracked everybody up. We parted ways, and years later Bob told me he thought "good luck with your little band," as if he'd never see us again!

Of course he did see us. We had a connection through managers, and Bob would come out and do bits onstage at Nirvana shows. We brought in New Year's 1994 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco with Bob. He was Baby New Year, and was lowered from the ceiling, naked, at midnight to commemorate the occasion! And there's a television commercial for In Utero where the band is going through a Lamaze birthing class, and Bob is the breathing coach!

I used to catch his comedy acts when he came through Seattle, and we'd also hang out and go record shopping while pondering various aspects of anything. Bob had an idea for a film--he called it Teenage Jesus. And it's just about that, the life of teenage Jesus.

Bob wanted Pontius Pilate to be a low-ranking Roman centurion who brings Jesus home to his parents after catching him in some minor trouble. "He's a good kid," he tells Mary and Joseph. I could imagine Pilate excusing himself to the kitchen sink many times during their conversation to wash his hands in an obsessive-compulsive way! Anyway, I warned about the trouble Nikos Kazantzakis got into with his book, The Last Temptation of Christ. (Not to mention an almost certain bad review in L'Osservatore Romano.)

I didn't see Bob for a while, but he gave me a call a year or so ago. He told me about another film he was working on, and as he explained it, another kind of apotheosis became apparent. It's a story about a kid who dies and his character is transformed radically by the living in a way that captures the imagination.

The story is not about Kurt Cobain; his work is unadulterated and speaks for itself. I connected to the concept because I've seen the transformation of an individual into some kind of eternal idol. Goldthwait explores the phenomenon with dark comedy.

I'm in the film in a scene with Williams. My appearance is for about a second, or maybe two. I'm occupied by quite a few things lately, but I still find myself obsessing and waiting for that phone call announcing my best-supporting-actor Oscar nomination.

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