Gilbert Gottfried – comedian

April 9, 2015 by  
Filed under Interviews

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, best known for the scratchy voice work he has used to create such characters as Iago the Parrot in the classic 1992 Disney animated film “Aladdin,” and as the former spokesduck for Aflec Insurance commercials, will be performing stand-up at the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club in San Antonio from April 10-12. I caught up with Gottfried, 60, earlier this week on the phone to talk about his new podcast, how the entertainment industry has changed over the years, and why he would never accept an offer to eulogize someone.

Do you remember the last time you performed in San Antonio?

God knows. I totally lose track of places I’ve been to. Whenever they show those clips of a politician or rock star yelling out, “I love you, Oklahoma!” and they’re in a totally different state, I completely understand how that happens.

Well, when you think of San Antonio, Texas, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

I think of a tumbleweed going by. (Laughs)

San Antonio sounds like a pretty boring place!

(Laughs) Yeah, maybe an occasional shootout happens, too. I’m used to it though. Usually during my shows someone pulls out a gun.

You started your podcast Gilbert Gottried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast about 10 months ago. So many comedians have taken this route in recent years. What made you want to do it?

I don’t really know. People were telling me to do it and I don’t really give things that much thought. It’s what everyone is doing nowadays, so I thought I would start. I didn’t know what I would talk about, but I really like talking about stuff that has to do with old show business. So, I aimed for that for the most part. So, we’ve had people like Boris Karloff’s daughter on the show. We had [TV and radio personality] Joe Franklin on right before he died. We’ve had Henry Winkler and Adam West on.

Yeah, so far your guests have been pretty diverse. What do you look for when you’re deciding who to bring on?

I look for guests I find interesting to me. Usually the guests that I have on are ones that people haven’t heard of. It was a surprise because I thought no one would like the podcast if they didn’t know the person. But I’ve been getting all these Tweets from people saying, “I had no idea who you were talking to or the people you were talking about, but I loved listening to it.”

Did it ever cross your mind that maybe they love listening to it because you have such a great voice for podcasting?

(Laughs) Yeah, I think I have that classic radio voice. It’s always between me and Morgan Freeman.

Have you ever been asked to do any voiceovers like Morgan Freeman? Would you ever eulogize someone, maybe?

I think one time someone ask me if I would do their eulogy. But I’m afraid those gigs don’t pay much.

That’s why you have to ask for the payment before the guy dies.

Oh, yes. As soon as the guy starts coughing, I want to get paid.

You started as a stand-up comedian in New York City when you were a teenager. Are comedy tours still fun for you or does it feel like a job now?

Sometimes when I’m coming into a new town with my suitcase, I feel like Willy Loman. So, it depends. Sometimes I enjoy it. Other times I just have to force myself.

When you come into new cities, do you try to craft your material for those audiences?

Not that much. Every now and then I’ll say something that has to do with the city. It varies if something hits me. I was lucky enough to be booked in Toronto when the mayor, Rob Ford, was in trouble with drugs and God knows what else. So, I was there right on the day that scandal started. So, all you had to do was say his name and people started laughing and applauding. It’s like the jokes didn’t even matter. Hopefully some big official in San Antonio will be found with a dead hooker when I get there.

Well, the only controversy in San Antonio right now is that our city council won’t allow Uber to operate in city limits. Not sure if you can do anything with that.

(Laughs) See, that’s already funny.

Do you ever think about your comedy legacy as your career progresses?

I’ll have these people say to me, “Isn’t it great that years after you’re dead people will still remember you as Iago the Parrot?” I always think, “Well, I’d rather they totally forget about Iago the Parrot and I just stay alive forever.” (Laughs)

You’ve gotten in trouble for things you’ve said or tweeted in the past. You were famously fired from your gig as the Aflac duck for making what the company thought were disrespectful remarks about the Japanese tsunami in 2011. Do you have a filter as a comedian or is controversy not really something you worry about?

Well, now when think about saying something, I think twice and say it anyway. (Laughs) I guess I’d be more gainfully employed if I thought about it.

Do you feel people are too sensitive when it comes to comedy?

Oh, yes, especially on the internet. I always say the internet makes me feel sentimental for old-time lynch mobs. At least a lynch mob had to actually go out and get their hands dirty. (Laughs) Show business used to be separate from everything else. If we had the internet back then, we’d probably see Clark Gable tweeting that “Gone with the Wind” sucked.

As someone who appreciates how Hollywood functioned back in the day, what do you think about people who get YouTube famous?

It’s scary. Show business years ago featured actors and singers who were big stars. There were newscasters and columnists and writers you’d look up to and listen to. Now, it’s everybody. It’s a weird thing. Nowadays being a star means you filmed yourself squeezing a blackhead and 20 million people watched it on the internet.

Now that you have your podcast going, is there anything else you’d like to try or learn about when it comes to new media or technology?

I have a cell phone that I barely know how to make calls and get calls. I still haven’t figured out how to put people on hold. The technology of podcasts or anything like that, I don’t know what I’m doing.

But at least you can work a toaster, right?

(Laughs) I’m starting to get the hang of that, yeah. Maybe when I’m 80 I’ll know how to make a good piece of toast.

Lisa Lampanelli – Long Live the Queen

March 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Interviews

Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the meanest one of all?

Since starting her stand-up comedy career in the early 90s, the answer has always been as harsh as a swift kick in the balls: Lisa Lampanelli.

When I first interviewed the Queen of Mean back in December 2007, I only knew of her from her appearances on the Comedy Central celebrity roasts. Now, Lampanelli is everywhere and doing just about everything, including writing a new advice column for T&A magazine Playboy.

During an interview with me to promote her March 5 tour stop at the Lila Cockrell Theater in San Antonio and her DVD/CD performance “Long Live the Queen,” Lampanelli talked about the infatuation guys have with crazy girls, her wedding in October, and why she considers her stand-up show “the great equalizer” when it comes to race relations.

Your publicist emailed me yesterday asking if I could push this interview back an hour because you had just scheduled a last minute lunch with someone. So, who was it that I got stood up for?

Oh, it wasn’t even lunch. It was my personal trainer. I’m trying to keep my weight under control. You as a dirty Hispanic should approve of that because you know you people gain weight easy.

Congrats on your new gig at Playboy. How does it feel writing for a publication whose subscribers couldn’t care less about the articles?

Exactly. Everyone always says they buy it for the articles, but they don’t really mean it. Now, they don’t have to lie and their cunty wives will actually let them buy it. Wives usually love me, so they’ll say, “Hey, Lisa’s got an article in it.” So, the bitches will allow it. Also, I dispense lots of words of wisdom because – as you know – I’m a very, very intelligent, bright woman with a great career and a fabulous celebrity lifestyle. People want to know what I think. Basically, the advice is really bad, so don’t follow it. Just read it and laugh.

Are you looking forward to visiting the mansion sometime?

You know, not at all. Are you kidding me? I don’t want that competition. I’d rather go to a Chubby Chaser convention so I can feel like the skinny one.

If you were a sexy 19-year-old model, would you hook up with Hugh?

Only if they didn’t make me sign a pre-nup. If they’re going to be dead soon, you might as well bang them for a couple of years and then get the dough. But if there’s a pre-nup, na-ah. No thanks. I gotta get compensated for my thingy down below.

Your first column in the magazine is called “The Art of Being Mean.” Tell us what it’s about.

The thing is with guys – I don’t know how you are – but most guys know that the best sex is with crazy girls, like freakin’ nutty bitches. Sex is just wilder. The thing is, most nice guys can’t get that type of woman, so I give some tips so that nice guys can get the crazy sex they richly deserve. However, they’re not going to get mean enough to kill the bitches like O.J. There’s a fine line. You don’t want to go crazy on a bitch, but you do want to get laid. That’s where I come in and help you.

Another congratulations is in order. You were married in October. What kind of bride were you?

Well, I was not a bridezilla because – as you know – those bridezillas are always poor. But being the fabulous celebrity that I am, I was able to snap my fingers and let all the bluebirds fly around and do everything for me. I had a fabulous wedding. It was very nice. It was traditional, but fun. I did, however, have to scream at one point during the ceremony, “Turn on the freakin’ air conditioner or I’m gonna kill somebody!” Other than that it was real classy.

As much as you talk about how much you love black guys, you didn’t end up marrying one.

Oh, yes I did. In the south he’d be considered black because he’s Italian. I found a loophole.

What are you going to be doing Sunday for the Oscars?

I love watching those things with homos because all my homo friends criticize all the outfits. But I’m sadly going to be on a plane, so I’m going to DVR it. But we all know who’s going to win anyway. Those British films win everything! Freakin’ King’s Speech, can you imagine? Are you kidding me? Why wasn’t Beverly Hills Chihuahua nominated? That’s what I want to know. As a Hispanic, you should be asking the same thing because you love those damn Chihuahuas.

There was a documentary I saw last year that I wish had been nominated called Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Did you get a chance to see that?

Yes, I did. It was fabulous.

Yeah, I really liked it a lot, too. I’m sure Joan is someone you look up to as a comedian. Would you want someone to make a documentary on you when you’re 77 years old?

Yes, hopefully I’ll still be alive. I’m not quite sure yet. I would, but I would want total control over it. I wouldn’t want to be shown crying and stuff. But Joan was really brave to let them show who she really is…and without make up, too. I mean, eesh! She looks like a Barbie doll that got left on a heater.

Speaking of icons in the entertainment industry, you pissed off some people a few weeks ago with your Tweet about Zsa Zsa Gabor after her leg was amputated. (“Zsa Zsa’s famous mansion on sale for $28 mil. The home is just too big for her now that her shoe collection has been cut in half”). Do you ever get tired of having to tell people to just lighten up?

No, I don’t even bother. My fans usually take care of it anyway. If you notice, any time someone says something like, “That was too far” there’ll be 20 other people saying, “F.U. That’s Lisa Lampanelli. What do you expect you douchbag?” So, I have crazy fans that do it for me. What’s funny about that story is that Zsa Zsa and her husband issued a little statement and said that they thought the joke was funny. So, as long as she laughed it’s fine with me.

I love the quote Jim Carrey gave for your book Chocolate, Please. Part of it reads, “Lisa releases us from a prison of cultural guilt.” Where do you think we are as a society right now in terms of acceptance and how do you feel you help or hurt that cause? Sorry for getting so serious all of a sudden.

No, that’s good. Hey, you’re a Latino so that’s considered an A+. I feel like my show is the great equalizer. People come in and everyone is judged exactly like everyone else. Asians are no better than blacks; black are no better than Mexicans; whites are just as bad as you people. Everyone gets equal treatment. I think that helps the cause of race relations because you finally feel what it’s like to be on equal terms with everyone else instead of above or below people. Race is like the last taboo subject. Sex is no longer taboo to talk about. All of a sudden it’s race. No matter what, I’m still getting paid, bitches, so that’s more Toyota Camrys for me.

What about sexuality? Today, gay slurs are frowned upon more than ever. Howard Stern even announced last month he would no longer use the term “fag.” Would you ever get to a point where you would hold back like that?

No, no, no, because I use all the other words and I have to be equal. If you say fag, you have to say spic and chink. My philosophy is that if you’re going to make fun of one group, you’ve gotta make fun of them all. No one gets special treatment in my show. The only word I’m really uncomfortable with is kike. The word sounds very harsh. I think it’s the two K sounds that’s the problem.

So, what do you think of my name Kiko?

I think you should just kill yourself at this point. You’re Mexican, right?

Yeah.

Aw, that’s sad. Well, maybe when you’re on the East Coast you can say you’re Puerto Rican so you can get a little upgrade.

I wanted to get back to your book for a quick second. You’re quoted as saying, “I can’t believe Courtney Cox is still married to that 1-800 retard.” The book was reprinted in Sept. 2010 and the following month Courtney Cox and David Arquette split. Coincidence?

I take full responsibility for breaking them up. I felt she read my book and she said to herself, “You know what? Lisa’s right. I shouldn’t be with this retard no more. I’m gonna upgrade.” So, I hope I really influence other people as well.

What do you think about what Laugh Factory owner Jaime Masada is doing over there at his place with the therapy sessions?

What’s he doing? I haven’t heard.

Basically, he’s offering therapy four nights a week to comedians who want it. Is that something you think comedians can benefit from?

I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad idea. I don’t know many comics who would want to be that vulnerable. When I was working with Jim Carrey, he said comedians live in the U.S.A. – United States of Avoidance. Comedians do anything to avoid their feelings like making fun of tragedy right when it happens so you don’t have to feel anything. Comics are famous for putting up those walls and using humor as a defense. But I think it’s a pretty noble idea. If comics did allow themselves to be vulnerable, those therapy sessions would be sold out for months because we’re really screwed up people.

Greg Giraldo actually died four days before I was going to interview him in September. How did his death affect you as a comedian?

Well, first of all, I blame you now because he probably found out he had to talk to you and killed himself. Second of all, it’s funny because we have to do this Donald Trump roast in a couple of weeks and I’m like, “Oh my god. Who’s going to lead it off or who’s going to close it? He was always the guy who would do one or the other great. It takes a real talent to do that stuff. I actually wasn’t surprised and neither was anyone who knew him surprised that it happened. His lifestyle was a demon he had to face.

When are we going to get a roast for someone who isn’t such an easy target? I mean, Donald Trump? Pamela Anderson? Flavor Flav? Come on. The jokes write themselves!

I think everyone’s an easy target. Comedy Central isn’t stupid. They want to pick people who are in the public eye and have these big flaws that are fun to make fun of so they can capitalize on the viewership. I don’t know anyone who would be a hard roast at this point. I mean, Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson. Those would be the greatest roasts ever.

I know you consider yourself a dirty girl, but can you tell me the cleanest joke you know?

I only have one clean joke because my little nephew told me it. What’s the difference between broccoli and snot? Kids will eat snot. That’s the only clean joke I know, so can you blame me for being dirty?