Comedy - Gilbert Gottfried doesn't care if he offends you

The abrasive comedian and actor reflects on 40 years in show business

Gilbert Gottfried is famous for two main things — his on-screen voice of course being the first thing that pops into peoples' minds. It's loud, and it's whining. It's screeching tones made Iago, the obnoxious parrot of Aladdin fame, and the AFLAC duck flap to life.

However, Gottfried is also known for his no-holds-barred stand-up comedy.

For the past 40 years, the comedian has entertained — and offended — the masses with snappy observations, clear of political correctness. Gottfried can be counted on to tell it the way it is, and that is precisely what keeps him on our radar and, frankly, in trouble.

"Everyone has become the critic," Gottfried says, "and I feel like when people get offended, quite often they are patting themselves on the back, saying, 'See? Look what a good person I am. I'm offended!'"

When not pushing the envelope or preparing dirty jokes for his stand-up tour, Gottfried is introducing the digital world to the bygone era of the silver screen in his podcast "Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast!" Creative Loafing spoke with Gottfried about being offensive to everyone, and the joys of soft-core porn.

What have you been up to lately?

Oh, geez. A lot of club work. I did a voice of a villain in another episode of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and I did a commercial during the Super Bowl with Snoop Dogg.

Oh, yeah, I saw that. Does he prefer Snoop Dogg or Snoop Lion now? I forget.

You'll have to give him a call laughs. It was a fun commercial, but if you walk by his hotel room you get a contact high.

Have you spent much time in Atlanta before?

I haven't. I've worked in Atlanta before, I know that much. It's like, with me, I'm like one of those people who travel all the time. Generally, I'm in a hotel. I fly in, I go to my hotel; I do some early morning radio shows. There are entire cities where I don't remember ever having been to. It's kind of like those characters in those movies, where the main character has amnesia. And it's like, I'll pick up a pencil or something and go, "Oh, okay. This brings back a memory laughs."

Atlanta has a lot of things to offer. Are you planning on going out at all or ... ?

Well, I hope I go out. That's another thing, I'll kind of be in the hotel and I'll go through all the channels and I'll see that there's nothing to watch, then I'll go through the channels again to see if there's something I could force myself to watch.

Is that the best thing you do in a hotel — watch TV?

Well, that's the best thing to do unless, of course, there is some free late-night soft-core porn laughs.

There you go. Well you've been doing stand-up for the last 40 years. Is there anything that's remarkably changed in the world of being a stand-up comedian?

It's like — I feel like the moment I started to understand what show business was, it just all changed, and so much of it now is over computers. First cable came in, and now if you say you have cable, people think you're an old-timer. It seems like there are so many other places to see movies, that movie theaters aren't as important. And the idea of television networks seems to be disappearing. I have no idea!

It seems like a lot may have changed. It's striking that you've been in the business for more than four decades.

Yeah, and no one's caught on laughs!

Your acting chops span a pretty big gap, from children's movies like Aladdin to very adult fare. Which do you prefer more — voice acting or acting on film?

You know, like I always say, "Who's ever written me a check for my face laughs? So voice acting is the one I enjoy the most.

Your podcast has become really popular on iTunes. Are you surprised by how many people love listening to you talk — and how many are still interested in the older talents you interview?

I mean, a lot of people thought — and so did I, most of all — nobody's going to care about my interest in old movies and old stars. And they seem to be! I love getting these tweets and emails saying, "I had no idea who you were talking to, but I loved listening to them," and "I had no idea who you were talking about, so I looked them up." So it's like a fun homework assignment.

I know you're a big fan of classic movies. If you could go back and actually have a part, however small, in one of those old movies, which would you pick?

Maybe I'd star in The Wolfman with Lon Chaney Jr. or The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre. Those were two of my favorites, but there's a million others. I'm sure one day they'll remake Citizen Kane and I can star in that.

You know, it seems like everyone nowadays has a podcast. What really made you want to make one, and how did you come up with the idea?

I still don't completely understand podcasts laughs. I'm not sure I understand my own! Someone suggested I do a podcast, and I figured, "Well, I'm interested in old-time showbiz, so that'll be most of the topics on it." Originally, I was going to go with "The Before It's Too Late Show" laughs, but I thought it might be hard getting guests if I'm approaching them to say, "Could you do my podcast? Because I think you'll be dead soon."

You have two young kids. Do they think you're funny or are you just a lame dad?

It's funny; my son is about four. He was in preschool and the teacher was telling us, "He doesn't pay attention in school. He just likes to crack jokes." And I thought, "I can't really reprimand him!" And the teacher asked him, "Where did you learn to be funny?" And he said, "My daddy." And she said, "Oh, is your daddy funny?" And he said, "Well, he's funny at home, not at work laughs."

You do put aside political correctness for the sake of the joke. What would you say to those that believe there are some topics that should never be joked about?

First of all, I love when people say, "Too soon!" Because who is it that decides what time is good and what time is bad? And I think what's so hypocritical about people getting offended is, before the Internet, people used to — after a tragedy, there would be a lot of jokes that would start circulating about the tragedy. You know, like the space shuttle or anyone who was killed or had died. Any tragedy. But now, it's like, if I tweet or say a joke on stage, people are like, "Oh, I can rant about that if I'm talking to my friends, but I'm going to act really offended now."

You recently were on "Celebrity Apprentice," where you made it a whopping three rounds.

Laughs I'm impressed I lasted that long!

Any thoughts on that? The show, any regrets, Donald Trump's hair?

Laughs My favorite part of that show is how seriously the contestants get into it. I was always feeling like, you know, no matter how many cupcakes you sell in the challenge, or anything else you do; you really think Trump is going to hire you to run his enterprise?

"Celebrity Apprentice" was Joan Rivers' final TV appearance. I know that you two worked together and her passing is still fresh on everyone's mind. Would you like to say anything about her?

Yeah, Joan was terrific. What I liked about her is Joan was always getting in trouble and she was adamant about never apologizing for anything she said. And I remember when I got in trouble for [[http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/14/gilbert-gottfried-tweets-_n_835553.html|making tsunami jokes]], Joan said something in an interview and was defending me. So, yeah ... she was terrific.

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