Gilbert Gottfried may be in his 48th year in the business, having started stand up in 1969 at the tender age of 15, but it seems as if he is more relevant than ever. He hosts a fantastic podcast, Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast, he still tours the country doing countless stand-up gigs, and is just as relevant in the cultural zeitgeist as ever before.
This month, Gilbert Gottfried will embark on his newest venture, when his documentary Gilbert opens up in various theaters around the country. For the very first time, audiences can see the curtain that has firmly been closed shut pulled all the way back, so that the man behind the legend can finally step forward. It is dirty, beautiful, and all else in between. A fascinating study of both a renowned comedian, as well as most importantly, a human being.
After all of these years, there is clearly nothing more than can possibly be said about the man that has not been said a thousand times before. So perhaps it’s just best to allow the legend to speak for himself, courtesy of a recent interview he did with The Laugh Button.
“I hated the idea of a documentary being done about me, because I thought ‘Don’t I have to be dead for at least 20 years? Or opening schools in third-world countries or something?’ Which I do, but I keep quiet about. But then they just basically started following me around, and I’m too much of a wimp to say no sometimes.”
“If I were making the documentary myself, in the posters I would look like Fabio in a romance novel and my shirt torn open and my muscles glistening.”
“It’s gotten really great reviews. But still I cringe when I watch it. I’m okay watching myself if I’m like Nick the plumber in a sitcom or something. But not me as me.”
“You definitely feel naked up there, and if there is one thing I can assure you of, it’s that you don’t want to see me naked.”
“There’s one bit I do about Mackenzie Philips, and my wife was adamant. She was telling him ‘Get that out of the documentary. That’s so horrible.’ And what he finally convinced her of is ‘No, you have to show that,’ because it’s like the extremes in my personality.”
“In the documentary, they showed when I did a benefit at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. And that’s not a funny place by any stretch. You had people up there telling heartbreaking stories about their children with cancer. I was worried. And when I went up there, I got a great reaction from the crowd. And it’s like people need to laugh at times like that, in stressful and sad situations.”
“I have bathrobes [‘borrowed’] from a couple of hotels. I even have one from the Trump Hotel, from when I did ‘The Celebrity Apprentice.’ So now I can say I have a ‘Presidential Bathrobe.'”
“I happened to be doing a club, and there were these war re-enactors from every war. Civil War, Korea, ‘Nam, and everything. And I go in there, and these Nazi officers with swastikas and iron crosses are running up to me excited, yelling ‘Oh, ‘Problem Child’ was my favorite movie!’ And they all took selfies with me. And I’m thinking ‘Gee, the Third Reich aren’t such bad guys.”
“What I love, is how when I’m going through security, they’re excited to meet me, they can name every movie and T.V. show I’ve been on, and yet they’re emptying out my luggage and patting me down for explosives and weapons. I’m like part time comic and terrorist.”
“I don’t think my parents were for my doing stand up at all. Especially back then. Now it seems like there’s so many comics. It seems like stand up comedy is a career option. Back then it seemed insane. It was like telling your parents basically ‘I’m going to be the next Charlie Chaplin.”
“I’d like my kids to go into show business if they could start out as rich internationally known superstars, and never face one minute of rejection. They could do it that way.”
“You don’t want your kids totally screwed up by having a camera follow them around and having people recognizing them in the streets and stuff like that. But they seem to really enjoy the cameras pointed at them. I guess they both have a little bit of a ham in them from me.”
“Less and less [what makes me laugh] has anything to do with comedy. To me watching comedy is like going to work on my day off. I don’t know what makes me laugh, though. Probably world tragedies or something.”
“I feel like if I want to joke about your family being killed in a fire, it’s comedy. But if someone makes a joke about the shirt I’m wearing, I feel like ‘Okay, now you’ve gone over the line.’ But I tend to joke about stuff that happens in my life, too. Because you have to.”
“I kind of look at it all as ‘Dance with the one who brought you.’ And since stand up is the one that brought me, I’ve got to keep dancing with it.”
“I hate [when someone asks ‘What do you want your legacy to be?’] because reporters and interviewers always ask this, and it goes right into the obituary. So I want my legacy to be ‘Oh my God. It’s 1,000 years later, and he’s STILL not dead.”