Theater archives

Gilbert Gottfried: Who Do I Apologize To?


Hilariously angsty comic Gilbert Gottfried is coming to Caroline’s on Broadway December 20 and Gotham Comedy Club (in a benefit for PS 11) on February 12.

What’s more, he has a book out called Rubber Balls and Liquor. (In the flap copy, Gottfried explains that he cares about the sanctity of the written word. “And in my case, those words include fuck, dick, and pussy.”)

Gottfried put down his rubber balls for a second and paused to talk with me about the various feathers he’s riotously ruffled through the years.

Hi, Gilbert. Will your Carolines show be holiday-related?

It’ll be who’s ever willing to pay cover and minimum. Any religion is accepted.

And you’ll talk about…

It will all be material you can sit around the fireplace with the kids, if your kids are on crystal meth.

Anything political?

No. I don’t keep up with that at all. I might have some jokes from the Eisenhower administration, but that might be it.

You don’t know what just happened with the election?

I hear some black guy got elected, but I hear that’s a prank.

Twice! How old is your audience?

Dead. I’m hoping to freshen up my act a little and get some audiences that are on life support.

How does it feel to be the man who made it OK to laugh again?

Except not to me! It’s OK for everyone else to laugh again, but I’m not allowed to. It’s been a wild ride. I feel like for the rest of my life I’ll have to explain and apologize for the fact that I’m a comedian who tells jokes.

What the whole big scandal did, the whole big part of it is it’s like taking a product and slapping a “new, improved” label on it. Like New Coke. It was disastrous, but then everybody was thrilled to have old Coke back.

Right now on my Twitter account, even when I put up even the dumbest jokes–like ‘What do numbers eat? Math potatoes’–I apologize if I’ve hurt any numbers.

Oh, wait. I think you’re talking about the Japanese tsunami joke you did, which cost you the Aflac duck voicing job last year. I was referring to the 2001 Hugh Hefner roast, where you told a terrorist joke and some people were appalled. You’ve offended so many people, it’s all starting to blur!

[We both start breaking up laughing, falling apart from here to the finish.]

I completely lost track of what I’m supposed to apologize for. I’d like to have one apology that I can send out, that I can hit a button and CC the person I’m supposed to be offending. ‘I’m deeply sorry to…add name here.’

It might be the name of an entire country. By the way, at the Hefner roast, when the guy yelled “Too soon!” I thought maybe he was a plant.

That guy, I’d love to meet him. What he said is a part of the culture now–and my career. And I followed it with the Aristocrats joke about incest and bestiality, and that’s fine with the audience! Terrorism is bad to joke about, but family members having sex with their dog is OK!

You created two legends in that one night. Amazing. But the worst heckle of all would be ‘Too late’.

‘Too late and too safe!’