Mr. Obnoxious

Gilbert Gottfried's on-stage persona only an act

Fairfield Daily Republic ©

FAIRFIELD - In public, Gilbert Gottfried is an obnoxious, irksome, loudmouth comedian whose persona denotes the definition of annoyance (just think of the AFLAC insurance commercials).

Yet the private Gottfried is quite the opposite. He has a rather calm voice and subtle nature, although he still takes digs at people and situations, and carries an infectious laugh throughout a conversation. He's really a likable guy.

He is also private. The 50-year-old comedian, whose voice can be heard in "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" and Walt Disney's "Aladdin," refuses to take any questions seriously. After all, he is a comedian.

The Brooklyn, N.Y., native began his career as a stand-up comedian before joining the cast of "Saturday Night Live" in 1980. Since then, he has appeared in various film and television productions and continues to perform his stand-up comedy routine.

From his home in New York, Gottfried takes an hour of his time to talk about, well, to make us laugh.

In public, you have a personality that is so obnoxious. Why?

Well, I've never been one of those persons they're hiring for Shakespeare. People ask if my parents talk like that, I have no idea! I don't know where or when it happened. I even see it in the AFLAC commercials.

Yes, those commercials are annoying, too.

They had me audition for it, which makes it insane because AFLAC was my only line. I said this was a waste of time, boy, what a stupid commercial. Now look at it a few years later. So don't listen to me for career advice. (He laughs) They'll have me there a few hours saying the same word and they'll keep re-recording it.

What got you started in comedy?

I think the first time I was on stage, I was 15 years old. I went up on an open mic at the "Bitter End" club in New York. I guess I was too stupid to turn back. I graduated high school, have no college, so I prove it doesn't take intelligence.

You have a reputation for saying things that offend others, like Donna Summer and Kraft. Why do you do that?

(Huge laugh) That way if I'm misquoted I can still be offensive. I opened for Belinda Carlyle and they told me there's a bunch of little girls so keep it clean. I tried that for eight minutes, that wasn't working, then I went into the raunchiest material.

At the Emmys, they wanted me to be a presenter. (In reference to Pee Wee Herman) I said if masturbation is a crime, I should be on death row. It was seen in New York, but it got cut in Los Angeles. They never asked me to apologize but they never talked to me again. They just told me to have fun - what's more fun than masturbation?

You're obnoxious on-stage, although you're really a quiet person. Is this your way of getting attention?

I don't know. I never took psychology. I'm sure there's something very deep, but go ahead and make up something good and touching and I'll say it's true.

Are you married?

No. It's part of me being so obnoxious.

Are you happy being single?

You got me. I don't understand marriage. I have no idea. It's something I try to avoid thinking about.

What's one thing you're embarrassed to admit in public?

I've already talked about masturbation. What could I be embarrassed about? My entire career, I suppose.

I read you don't like talking about your personal life. Is that true?

I'm not crazy about it. I always feel it's like going to a restaurant and asking, "What can you tell me about the cook? What does he do during the day? What movies does he like?"

When you look back at your career, what is your greatest accomplishment?

That I've gone this far without being killed by an angry audience.

Has anyone threatened you?

Usually I start running before I can find out. I don't give them a chance to get near me. Bodyguards don't want to bother with me either.

If you could compare your comedy style to a fruit, what would it be and why?

Richard Simmons. It's very annoying. OK, let's not start a gay rumor, it's just the obnoxious part.

A major broadcast television network gives you a million dollar deal to develop a sitcom. What would you do?

I'd take the money and leave town.

Do you ever answer honestly?

Who knows anymore?

How would you describe yourself?

Short, Jewish, irritating (laughs) .

Do you like to interview?

Can't you tell?

Are you a confident person?


Are you going to stop with that one-word answer?

(Roaring laugh) Yeah. It's funny.

Anything you'd like to add?

I can't think of anything. I can't even think of stuff when you ask me questions.