The Great Gilbert Gottfried

My wife and I saw Gilbert Gottfried at a local comedy club this week. If you think you know who he is and what he does from tv appearances - you’re wrong. You need to see him in the intimacy of a small room.

Most comedians work the room, pace the stage, talk to people in the audience. Gottfried stands still in front of the microphone. His expression never changes. The audience has to go to him and once they do he has them in the palm of his hand.

How many other comedians could collapse the audience in laughter with a Herman Melville joke? I had to think about it afterward to realize that he never said the name Moby Dick. That would set expectations for a dick joke, not at all what he was going for. The brilliance of doing a Moby Dick joke without the name is comedic genius.

Not that Gottfried avoids filth. At some point during the show he became aware that the female deaf interpreter was occasionally getting bigger laughs from the hearing portion of the audience than he was by enthusiastically acting out the motions he described. A lightbulb went on over his head.

He always ends his shows with a series of the world’s dirtiest jokes. You’ve all seen the movie The Aristocrats by now. For his endpiece he turned to the woman he’d been mostly ignoring and standing closer to the audience than and announced “I don’t usually tell this joke any more.” And launched into the Aristocrats. She leapt to the challenge. Her entire body became the joke. She swung her arms and pumped her fists and spewed imaginary liquids across the stage as Gottfried joyously led her down the paths of incestuous scatological bestiality. It was a performance for the ages. A “you should have been there that night.”

This wasn’t a regular part of his act. Rochester has a huge deaf community and signs everything. But Gottfried will be criss-crossing the country for the rest of the year. If he’s near you, make it a point to see him. He’s at a higher level, a comedian’s comedian, one of a kind, a master.

What was the Herman Melville joke?

You need to hear him tell it. But it was about the anatomical impossibility of a whale using its giant mouth to accurately nip off a specific leg part, comically exaggerated.

This must be it:

[spoiler]TheMadChaosopher: am i the only 1 who HATES gilbert gottfried?

I was talking to Herman Melville the other day, and he says “I’m writing a book called ‘Moby Dick.’ Do you think it needs something?” And I said “hmmmm… offhand, I’d say a whale.” “A whale?!,” he says? “I’ve got this nice little book about a guy on a boat, and you think it needs a whale? Why a whale?” And I say, “I don’t know, maybe it bit the guy’s leg off or something.” “So let me get this straight,” he says, “This guy falls in the water, and he’s about the size of a Rice Krisipe. And this whale, who’s about the size of La Guardia Airport comes up and just nibbles the guy’s leg off. He just nibbles it off – maybe with just these two back teeth back here. Maybe he just wasn’t very hungry that day. You know, I can kind of see that.”[/spoiler]

That’s the start of it. It builds. You need to hear it in his voice.

It’s like the difference between seeing a band in a club and on a television show. One is really not like the other.

I have been saying for over 30 years that Gilbert Gottfried is one of the funniest motherfuckers out there, that he is a comedic genius and a master of the stand-up form, but everyone thinks I am nuts and/or just taking the piss or something… until one of them actually sees his whole act.

I am so glad to see this thread!

It cocks the warmles of my heart; it does.


Those of us old enough to remember when he debuted on SNL know that he didn’t have the “Gilbert Gottfried” voice in the beginning. It’s a comic persona every bit as much as “Groucho Marx” or “Andy Kaufman.” In his home life he talks like a normal person. (He’s on tape out there in places.) He’s elevated by it on stage; trapped by it off stage. People mistake the persona for the person.

That’s make him unique and inimitable. Comics can base their acts on Jerry Seinfeld or Steven Wright or Joan Rivers. A few alternations, some hemming, new cuffs, and the suit is yours. Nobody is like Gilbert Gottfried. Until you are there live with him as the center of the storm you can’t imagine its fury.

I’m pretty sure it was Gilbert Gottfried who did a bit on Jewish guilt, as a mother scolding her young son. Something along the lines of, ‘Do you know why it’s raining? Be cause of you. It’s your fault.’ He goes on to blame everything back to the extinction of the dinosaurs on the child.

I wish I could find a video of that performance.

I love GG! Very funny, and his voice is an important part of his shtick. I saw his live act a few years ago and just laughed and laughed. Got his autograph on his concert DVD afterwards, too.

I remember when he was doing the bumpers on ‘Up All Night’ (late night cable tv movies) where he made rude comments and once portrayed an irate woman having her period, slamming down her purse and eating chocolate.

Have you listened to him read selections from ‘50 Shades of Gray’ on youtube? literally I was bent over laughing, hysterically.

I am currently reading his autobiography 'Rubber Balls and Liquor', unfortunately it isn't very funny or clever.

(Bolding mine)

Gilbert created his own image of the comic too annoying to go see, as if to tell the audience don’t bother showing up if you’re not into my kind of humor. That just makes him a better comedian in my book. I should make plans to catch his show. He is indeed a comic genius and master of stand-up, I think the best comics out there would say the same about him.

I listen to his podcast, Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast fairly regularly. He is a font of information regarding old movie stars. Ask him about the Danny Thomas story sometime.