Yesterday was another rough day for the Gottfried family. They are such nice folks and they were only hoping to get past last week’s controversy. Gilbert Gottfried’s wife, Dara, emailed me back late yesterday that “As you can imagine, it’s been crazy here this week” because of a week filled with all of the fallout from some jokes that Gilbert posted on Twitter earlier in the week about the Japan earthquake that created a firestorm of negative news for the comic. Certainly his family and manager had some reason to be concerned when at Wizbang Pop, I mistakingly ran a piece on three SLATE parody jokes that were not written by Gilbert Gottfried. Gilbert was very sad that his own 12 jokes posted on Twitter intended to be read by his fans and other comic pals caused any hurt to anyone after they became more public. Gilbert Gottfried underestimated that Twitter is far more read than it is. Gilbert issued some heartfelt apologies for his own jokes. He is a very kind and decent man who only wanted people to laugh through a tragedy, and certainly not cause any pain to any person.
I can understand that the Gottfried family have good reason to be concerned for Gilbert’s career and are making every effort to move past last week and get back to life as normal. By late in day, I was pleased to learn that my supportive emails as well as revised and updated Wizbang Pop feature “put a smile” on Gilbert’s face when his wife read them to him. I’m happy to hear that Gilbert’s happy. Last week’s stress had to be terrible for his family.
Gilbert Gottfried has always proven himself to be one of the most durable comics around. And there shouldn’t be any reason not to believe that Gilbert Gottfried won’t quickly recover from a few jokes that flopped with some in the public. Gilbert has a history of bouncing back from some bad jokes to being bigger than ever. It’s in his nature. When he was only 15, he quit school and began the tough job of trying to get gigs a comedy clubs. He’s always been motivated to prove that he was born to be a great comic.
Part of Gilbert Gottfried’s appeal has always been his new wave comedy style of being edgy and being a sort of shock comic. His shtick of telling timely jokes way too soon about major items in the news makes him popular with fans as being “out there” and being a comic rebel. Gilbert probably knows from his appearances on Howard Stern that about 50% of viewers just love him, while another 50% don’t. But, that’s fine. His 50% fan base are extremely loyal, and Gilbert Gottfried hasn’t done anything this past week to erode that base of support. In fact, just the opposite. A lot of fellow comics and fans have rushed to support him and now feel a lot of sympathy for his very rough week in the mainstream press. And Gilbert Gottfried has far more loyal fans who love him than he can ever imagine.
Gilbert Gottfried proved his enduring quality as a comic back at a Friar’s Club roast of Hugh Hefner in 1991, when only three after the 9/11 attacks he told an airliner joke inspired by the news and some in the audience groaned, “too soon”. Gilbert quickly bounced back with famous version of “The Aristocrats” joke where his version of the joke quickly became the crown jewel of “THE ARISTOCRATS” film. Gilbert simply blew out the other comics, telling far and away the very best version of that joke in the film.
The fact of the matter is that Aflac, Disney and any other mainstream employer of Gilbert Gottfried over the years had to know for a long time what kind of comic he is. He’s edgy and new wave. But, he’s a great talent, so he’s always been worth the risk. And Gilbert and his managers have always been real smart about his career. And most importantly, Gilbert Gottfried didn’t have a Michael Richards moment last week.
Michael Richards allowed his own comic career to step into a tailspin cycle since SEINFELD ended. He had a chance to star in the smash cable hit MONK, but turned it down even though the role was written for him. Instead, he starred in a comic detective show that was a major flop on NBC that was quickly canceled. Former WINGS actor Tony Shaloub was a distant second choice to play the lead in MONK, took on the role, and became an award winning actor for the show. Michael Richards began low budget comedy club tours, but one of the shows went horribly wrong when he once went into a comedy “zone” and told some jokes that were perceived as being racist to the audience. This one event makes it hard for Richards to find much new work as a comic these days. But, Richards is still worth $45 million because of his days with SEINFELD and careful management of his money. So he’s fine even if he doesn’t work much since the unfortunate club incident.
But, Gilbert Gottfried’s net worth isn’t even close the net worth of Michael Richards. He’s comfortable, but he probably needs to be able to keep working to provide for his family for at least a few more years before he considers any retirement. And I think that Gilbert loves to work as well. He loves to tell jokes. He loves for people to laugh. At 56, Gilbert Gottfried still has many more good joke telling years ahead.
The Aflac firing is a blow for sure. It’s always a good deal to get royalty payments each time an ad runs. Now, that door is closed. Now, Gilbert has to look to open a new door, find a new opportunity. But, that’s always come before. Gilbert’s a master at finding new opportunities. He once landed himself on both SNL and then NIGHT COURT, proving that there’s always TV. Hey, I hear there’s an opening on TWO AND A HALF MEN, right now.
I can well remember how Gilbert once annoyed Arsenio Hall on his own show with his persistent questions about whether he was having sex with Paula Abdul or not. Gilbert Gottfried might not have been back on Arsenio Hall after that. But, he came back with some new opportunities. He always springs right back from any jokes that backfire. It’s just in his nature.
Gilbert even cheated death at least once, surviving an appendix burst. And it gave him plenty of opportunity for more than a few self-deprecating jokes about his own mortality. And it proved that he always springs back from even the very worst. That was some heavy duty serious stuff compared to this small stuff this week over a few jokes that flopped.
Yesterday, when both Dara Gottfried and Gilbert’s representative, Steve Honig, emailed me, it was out of concern for Gilbert. And both were incredibly nice despite their concerns for Gilbert after such a painful week. Monday will be one more day’s distance between last week as well. People will once begin to see Gilbert as the great comic talent he is within a few days. Gilbert will bounce back bigger than ever. And that’s a fact. You can bank on that.