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Monday, Jun 18, 2018
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Q&A: Gottfried on stand-up, cooking competitions and losing to Dustin Hoffman

Gilbert Gottfried has performed in the Tampa Bay area dozens of times over his 40 years in stand-up comedy. Or maybe he's never been here, he's not really so sure.

“I'm like a guy with amnesia. I'll swear I've never been to a certain club or city before, but then I'll get there and I'll see that I've signed their wall,” Gottfried said in a phone interview from his Manhattan apartment. “I have no memories from Tampa. Can I make some up?”

Sure, Gilbert.

“Well there was the drug overdose, and then the hooker incident ...”

Gottfried's resume is long and diverse. He's famously filthy in his appearances on the Comedy Central Roasts and in the 2005 documentary “The Aristocrats,” but he has also voiced the animated parrot “Iago” in more than 20 Disney projects.

He'll perform stand-up (presumably the filthy variety) Dec. 29 at the newly-refurbished Capitol Theatre in Clearwater.


TBO.com: Did you really start doing stand-up at 15?

Gilbert Gottfried: Yeah. I don't remember if I did well, or if I was too stupid to know I bombed, but what I do remember is I did a lot of impressions; people like Humphrey Bogart and Boris Karloff. So even back then my act was completely dated.

TBO: You're appearances on Howard Stern are legendary. Will you go back on his show?

GG: Years ago, if I'd wake up early, I'd walk over to his studio and just walk up and go right in. But isn't he on like once a week or something now? If I want to visit him now I'll have to sing a chorus line medley on “America's Got Talent.”

TBO: How did you end up on “Celebrity Cook Off?”

GG: My agent called and said 'They're interested in you, and they'll pay you this amount, can you cook?' When I heard I'd get paid I immediately said 'Yes, cooking is my favorite thing in the world.' When I got there I made the only thing I can make, which is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Surprisingly, I didn't win.

TBO: You're a fixture on the Comedy Central Roasts. Do you have thick skin?

GG: I'm a hypocrite. I feel like I should be able to say whatever I want about other people, no matter how deeply personal it is, but if you make fun of the shirt I'm wearing, you've gone too far. I like doing those a lot.

TBO: You're ad for the Shoedini is stuck in my head. Ever get any weird endorsements you've had to turn down?

GG: A lot of people said to turn down the Shoedini, but a shoe horn on a stick is just too good. In the commercial these old people are falling over and cracking their heads trying to tie their shoes. If you're a cynic, you say, 'Why don't they just sit down?'`` But no, the Shoedini is one of the greatest inventions of all time.

TBO: Is there any subject you won't make a joke about?

GG: I always laughed at the old expression, tragedy plus time equals comedy, because, why wait? How come time makes it okay. To me that makes it more hypocritical if you wait a year. I like to say comedy and tragedy are roommates.

TBO: Anything else coming up?

GG: I don't like to talk about anything until it's for sure. Once there was a role (the character “Mumbles” in Warren Beatty's “Dick Tracy”) and they were telling me 'you're the only person we have in mind.' At the last minute my agent tells me they're going with Dustin Hoffman. I said, wait a minute, when was my name ever neck and neck with Dustin Hoffman unless it was someone saying 'I've seen Gilbert act, and he's no Dustin Hoffman?'

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