My good friend Gilbert Gottfried lost his job with Aflac doing the voice of their famous duck character after he posted some jokes about the Japan disaster on Twitter. However, Aflac should have known for a long time that Gilbert’s shtick was to tell jokes way too soon. After actress Natasha Richardson hit her head in a ski accident, went into a coma and eventually died, Gilbert joked about once asking her when she would make love to him, she supposedly replied, “When I’m brain-dead”. Gilbert Gottfried is a shock comic who tells outrageous jokes way too soon about tragic events. It’s a comic style most comics will avoid, but it sets Gilbert Gottfried apart from other comics and gives him his own shtick.
Reportedly, Gilbert Gottfried tweeted that “Japan is really advanced. They don’t go to the beach. The beach comes to them.” and also that “I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, “There’ll be another floating by any minute now”.
Gilbert Gottfried may be controversial, but he was born to be a comic. At age 15 he stopped attending high school and instead went to comedy clubs to get himself signed to do shows. He was that serious about a career as a comic. Over the years, he perfected a number of comedy bits including his brilliant impersonation of Jerry Seinfeld and Dracula.
Gilbert Gottfried was known for being so frugal that he used to brag about having folding lawn furniture in his NY apartment. Gilbert Gottfried eventually married and has two children.
One Halloween, Gilbert sent me his photos from his kitchen of the pumpkin he was carving and we exchanged some emails. He’s a very nice man. I’m happy to be one of his many friends and fans. Aflac is losing a great talent here. They need to reconsider their decision here.
For his part, Gilbert Gottfried offered an apology statement today.
Aflac also had a statement regarding Gilbert Gottfried that they issued. But, they should have known about Gilbert’s comic style and should have just shrugged their shoulders at his Japan tweet jokes, and let business continue as usual. Gilbert Gottfried brought Aflac a lot of business. He was very good for them. They should be forever grateful to him.
Aflac does earn over 75% of it’s profits in the Japanese market, so perhaps it was a business decision on their part to terminate Gottfried as their mascot’s voice. Now, the legal question lingers whether the mascot is entirely the intellectual property of Aflac and follows them with a new voice or whether Gilbert Gottfried has some intellectual property claim here as well and cannot be legally replaced with someone doing an imitation of him. Hey, doing duck voices is serious stuff you know!