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.
Life and CareerEdit
Gottfried was born in Brooklyn, New York. He met music executive Dara Kravitz at a Grammy Awards party in the late 1990's. They married in 2007. At age fifteen, Gilbert 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 short-lived 1992 TV series The Amazing Live Sea Monkeys and voiced crazed dentist "Dr. Bender" and his son Wendell on the show 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 eponymous 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 to 1998. Gottfried was a regular guest on the most recent version of Hollywood Squares. He is best remembered for a 1999 episode in which a single round of play took up the entire half-hour. The contestants had each won four stars/squares, leaving Gottfried as the last square available. Because either player could win upon capturing Gottfried's square, they could not win on their competitor's wrong response and had to win it themselves. The contestants alternated agreeing or disagreeing about whether Gottfried was bluffing an answer—and missed six consecutive tries. Five of those times he admonished the contestant with an increasingly incredulous "YOU FOOL!", mimicking Penn Jillette and his partner Teller. The seventh time he and the contestant agreed, and they finally won the square and the game. This segment has been featured on game show blooper programs and is popular on YouTube.
Gottfried has provided the voice of the duck in the AFLAC commercials and Digit in the math-mystery cartoon Cyberchase on PBS Kids GO!, as well as the magical imp Mr. Mxyzptlk on Superman: The Animated Series. He also played a nasty wisecracking criminal genius named "Nick-Nack" who used toys to commit crimes on two episodes of the TV series Superboy (he also co-wrote an issue of the tie-in Superboy: The Comic Book which featured the origin of his character, Nick-Nack). Gottfried has made regular appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
In 2004, Comedy Central featured his stand up material for an animated series called 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".
Gottfried 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, Gilbert 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.
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. 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, fired 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.