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Goldthwait became recognized as a solo stand-up comedian and had a record "Meat Bob" and two televised concert specials in the 1980s: An Evening with Bobcat Goldthwait —Share the Warmth and Bob Goldthwait —Is He Like That All the Time? He became known for his unique brand of comedy, which combines elements of political satire and often bizarre or unsettling black comedy.

During the fall of 1993, Goldthwait performed stand-up material as an opening act for Nirvana on what would be their final North American tour. He had been selected for the slot due to frontman Kurt Cobain being a fan of his comedy, and the two developed a friendship over the course of the tour.[7] He also appeared in a promo video for the band's album In Utero and once fooled an interviewer during a phone interview, impersonating Dave Grohl. At midnight on New Year's Eve 1993, Goldthwait rappelled nude from a catwalk of the stage at the Oakland Coliseum as Kurt Cobain led a countdown.[8]

Goldthwait filmed a half-hour HBO special in 1995, and another comedy album in 2003 I Don't Mean to Insult You, But You Look Like Bobcat Goldthwait and in 2004 his stand-up was featured in Comedy Central's animated series Shorties Watchin' Shorties. Goldthwait announced his retirement from stand-up in 2005 and performed a "final" run in Vegas in September 2005;[citation needed] he briefly resumed touring in early 2008 (from January through April); he performed again in 2009, doing stand-up in Winnipeg on April 3 and 4, and again in Omaha on August 28 and 29; he returned to Winnipeg for four shows on April 9 and 10, 2010. He released a one-hour stand-up special in 2011 You Don't Look the Same Either.

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