For more than three decades this Brooklyn-born comic has made his name as a stand-up comedian, TV personality and regular guest on the Howard Stern Show. He’s taken numerous movie turns, including Iago the talking parrot in Disney’s Aladdin and President Abraham Lincoln in Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways To Die in the West. But what Gilbert Gottfried is truly known for is shocking the shit out of people. He’s the guy who started joking about the Japanese tsunami before the waters had receded and who riffed on 9/11 when the New York City skies were still black with smoke. He is the king of the gasp-laugh and now the star of Gilbert, the aptly named film debuting in the spotlight documentary category at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
What do Japanese Jews like to eat? Hebrew National Tsunami.”
HUSTLER: Do you have a comic philosophy, Gilbert?
GILBERT GOTTFRIED: If I can make it in the business, there is no rhyme or reason to it. I guess that’s my philosophy.
You’re known for being shocking. Is it your intention to outrage people?
Really I just want to make them laugh. That’s the main thing. The outrage part is something that came along with it. Now more than ever people love getting outraged, getting offended. And with the internet—well, it’s the modern way of ringing someone’s doorbell and running away. There’s total anonymity. The internet makes me feel sentimental for old-time lynch mobs. At least those people had to get their hands dirty.