Gilbert Gottfried (born February 28, 1955) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, and voice artist. His numerous roles in film and television include voicing the parrot Iago in Disney's Aladdin and Digit in the children's cartoon / educational math-based show Cyberchase. Gottfried was also the voice of the Aflac Duck until 2011; Gottfried has hosted a weekly podcast featuring an interview, usually with a different comedy writer or comedian each week, since May 2014.
Gottfried was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 28, 1955.
Early career (1980–1994)Edit
At age 15, Gottfried began doing amateur stand-up in New York City and, after a few years, became known around New York as "the comedian's comedian." In 1980, Saturday Night Live was being retooled with a new staff and new comedians; the producers noticed Gottfried and hired him as a cast member. During the 1980–1981 season, Gottfried's persona in SNL sketches was very different from his later characterization: he rarely (if ever) spoke in his trademark screeching, obnoxious voice and never squinted. During his 12-episode stint, he was given very little airtime and seldom used in sketches. Gottfried recalls a low point was having to play a corpse in a sketch about a sports organist hired to play inappropriate music at a funeral. Despite this, he had one recurring character (Leo Waxman, husband to Denny Dillon's Pinky Waxman on the recurring talk show sketch, "What's It All About?") and two celebrity impersonations: David A. Stockman and controversial film director Roman Polanski.
Although not a regular, he also appeared in The Amazing Live Sea Monkeys, as well as voicing the crazed dentist "Dr. Bender" and his son Wendell in The Fairly OddParents and the voice of Jerry the Belly Button Elf on Ren and Stimpy. Three of his most prominent voice-over role came in 1990, 1991, and 1992, when he was cast as the adoption agent Igor Peabody in Problem Child and Problem Child 2 and the parrot Iago in Aladdin. When asked how he prepared for the role, Gottfried said, "I did the whole DeNiro thing. I moved to South America! I lived in the trees!" Gottfried reprised the role in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the television series and various related media, such as Kingdom Hearts and House of Mouse.
Gottfried was the host of the Saturday edition of USA Up All Night for its entire run from 1989-1998.
Voice acting, television, and films (1999–present)Edit
On the most recent version of Hollywood Squares, Gottfried was a regular guest.
Gottfried has provided the voice of the duck in the Aflac commercials and Digit in Cyberchase, as well as Mr. Mxyzptlk in Superman: The Animated Series. He also voiced a nasty wisecracking criminal genius named Nick-Nack in two episodes of Superboy (he also co-wrote an issue of Superboy: The Comic Book, which featured Nick-Nack's origin). On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Gottfried has made regular appearances.
In 2004, Comedy Central featured Gottfried's stand-up material for Shorties Watchin' Shorties. Gottfried was part of an online advertising campaign for Microsoft's Office XP software, showing, in a series of Flash-animated cartoons, that the Clippy office assistant would be removed. In 2006, Gottfried topped the Boston Phoenix's tongue-in-cheek list of the world's 100 Unsexiest Men. In April 2006, Gottfried performed with the University of Pennsylvania's Mask and Wig Club in their annual Intercollegiate Comedy Festival. Also in 2006, he made an appearance on the Let's Make a Deal portion of Gameshow Marathon (as a baby in a large high chair, he says "Hey Ricki, I think I need my diaper changed!"), and in the Dodge Viper in the big deal (where he tells the contestants "What were you thinking?!" because neither one picked it). He also guest-starred in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy as Santa Claus in the one-hour Christmas Special. He voiced Rick Platypus in an episode of My Gym Partner's a Monkey entitled "That Darn Platypus".
He appeared as Peter's horse in an episode of Family Guy entitled "Boys Do Cry". He also guest-starred in Hannah Montana as Barny Bittmen. In January 2009, Gottfried worked again with David Faustino for an episode of Faustino's show Star-ving. In 2011, Gottfried appeared in the episode "Lost Traveler" on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Leo Gerber, a sarcastic computer professional working for the NYPD's Technical Assistance Response Unit, which producer Warren Leight said could become a recurring character. Gottfried read a section from the hit book Fifty Shades of Grey in a June 2012 YouTube video, which was created with the aim of using Gottfried's trademark voice to make fun of the book's graphic sexual content.
In 2013, Gottfried became a member of "Team Rachael" on the second season of Food Network's Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off. In March 2013 he appeared on ABC's Celebrity Wife Swap. He swapped wives with Alan Thicke. He is also a commentator on truTV Presents: World's Dumbest....
On May 28, 2014, Sideshow Network premiered "Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast," an interview series featuring "Hollywood legends and behind-the-scenes talents who shaped his childhood and influenced his comedy." His first guest was Dick Cavett. Comedy writer and producer Frank Santopadre is a co-host on the podcast.
Gottfried was the third contestant fired during the seventh season of the NBC reality show The Celebrity Apprentice.
In the late 1990s, Gottfried met Dara Kravitz at a Grammy Awards party. In 2007, they married.
September 11 jokeEdit
During his monologue at a Friars Club roast of Hugh Hefner three weeks after the September 11 attacks, Gottfried joked that he had intended to catch a plane, but could not get a direct flight because "they said they have to stop at the Empire State Building first." This was one of the first public examples of 9/11 humor. Audience members responded with hisses and a cry of "Too soon!" Gottfried then abandoned his prepared remarks and launched into the venerable Aristocrats joke, winning back the audience. Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza used Gottfried's monologue as a segment in their 2005 film The Aristocrats.
Japanese tsunami jokesEdit
In March 2011, Gottfried made jokes on his Twitter account about the earthquake disaster in Japan. Aflac, which does 75% of its business in Japan, responded by dismissing Gottfried on March 14, 2011, and announced a casting call for his replacement as the voice of its duck mascot. He was replaced by Daniel McKeague (who did an impression of Gottfried) on April 26, 2011.