Gilbert Gottfried is a Jewish-American institution. He's not just any Jew, but the self-proclaimed "most obnoxious" one in the world, a role Gottfried says he's "fighting to keep" after more than 30 years in the industry.
"Oh dammit, I was trying to keep the fact that I was Jewish secret all these years," the foul-mouthed, squinty-eyed comedian quips during a recent interview with New Times.
Gottfried is appearing at Ricochet Lounge on December 26, coincidentally the seventh night of Hanukkah. "You just let the secret out."
When he's not offending Jews, tsunami victims, or supplemental insurance
providers, Gottfried's wandering the noisy streets of New York City
where he lives with his wife Dara and their two small children.
been kicked out my apartment 'cause my career's hit rock bottom," he
yells into the phone. "I'm still having a hard time hearing you... It
doesn't help that I'm on the street with cars going by."
IMDB, Gottfried's 56 years old. His hearing trouble, however, leads us
to believe he's much older--the comedian has never liked discussing his
age, admitting in other interviews that it's depressing. But while his
age may be off-topic, little else is.
"Jerry Sandusky just agreed to
be a clown at my kid's birthday party," Gottfried jokes when asked
about his thoughts on the Penn State scandal. "What I like about hiring
him as a clown is that I know I can leave the house and the kids will be
Gottfried's humor is both unfiltered and almost always
unapologetic. In the wake of the devastating Japanese tsunami that
claimed the lives of nearly 16,000 victims earlier this year, the
funnyman tweeted a series of jokes that didn't fly over so well,
particularly with his bosses at Aflac.
For 11 years, Gottfried
provided the voice of the Aflac duck. But after the comedian made jokes
like, "My Japanese doctor advised me to stay healthy I need 50 million
gallons of water a day," and saying his book Rubber Balls and Liquor was
"making quite a splash" in Japan, the insurance giant, which does 75
percent of its business in Japan, dropped him.
Gottfried issued a public apology a few days later, claiming that he
"meant no disrespect" with his tweets.
"What I love about the media
is that when those tweets came out, that became a bigger news story than
the actual tsunami," Gottfried says. "I loved the way newscasters would
try to repeat the joke in a really solemn way."
Though it may have cost him a paycheck, the incident earned him several new friends on Twitter.
an hour, I got 100,000 new followers. The majority of people get the
joke; the majority have a life and understand the concept of a comedian
making a joke. The other people, the crazies out there, they follow you
because they want to get offended some more."
Just like the Japanese
people he offended, Gottfried's rebuilding. He recently appeared on an
episode of Law & Order: SVU, and says he "offered to just pop up on
each episode as a dead body washed up on shore" if they'd have him.
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Perhaps his biggest accomplishment yet, however, is Rubber Balls and Liquor, his first book and Amazon's 87,833rd best-seller.
"The publisher told me there'd be a follow up as soon as one person buys this book."
See Gottfried at Ricochet Lounge Monday at 8 p.m., or follow him on Twitter @RealGilbert.