We talk to comedian Gilbert Gottfried about his upcoming show at Massey Hall this month and what he thinks of the Donald
Legendary (and filthy) comic hosts April Fool’s Day show at Massey Hall
Gilbert Gottfried got up onstage at a comedy club for the first time when he was 15 years old, and although he’s a little longer in tooth, his comedy still reflects the sensibilities of a young male teenager. Ahem. But his unique delivery and endearing personality have made him a beloved international comedy star. He’s in town this month to host a night of comedy at Massey Hall on April 1 headlined by the equally foul-mouthed and hilarious Nikki Payne.
You are a comedian who holds nothing back. Has that ever backfired on you?
So many times have I gotten in trouble for jokes I’ve made especially with the Internet. It’s gotten worse. I feel like the Internet makes me feel sentimental about old-time lynch mobs. At least with old-time lynch mobs, you have to put your shoes on to go out and get your hands dirty and deal with other pole. Now they’re sitting in their underwear on the couch typing together a lynch mob.
Is there anything you won’t joke about?
Obviously not with all the trouble I’ve had, and jobs I’ve lost.
You have some experience with Donald Trump as a former participant on Celebrity Apprentice. What is going on with this guy?
I was on Celebrity Apprentice, and everyone saw him fire me. He looks mean when he’s firing me, but they didn’t show the next part when he invited me back to his office so we could lie together on the couch and cuddle for a half-hour.
How does your stage personas differ from the offstage version of Gilbert Gottfried?
I think I’m even more annoying in real life.
Tell us about your first gig.
Well, like, the first gig was more of a none gig. When I was a kid, I started doing impressions of people I saw on TV and started joking around. Somebody told my older sister that there was some club where you could go and put your name on a list, and when they get to your name, they announce you and you go onstage. And I did that. And I continued doing it. For years, I was trying to get up on stages, finding clubs that would let you. And for years, I didn’t see a penny, not
even a free soda from them.
So what kept you going?
I always say it was pure stupidity. It was, like I always say, the younger you are the more unrealistic you are. Now when I think of it in rational terms, the idea of thinking you’re going to have a career in show business sounds insane to me. I didn’t think in terms of the amount of work or the amount of time or how unrealistic it is. So that kept me going, a total lack of realism. Tell us what’s behind this desire of yours to be the next Colonel Sanders, the Kentucky Fried Chicken spokesperson. Just another pay cheque. If I don’t get that, I’ll gladly take the Jolly Green Giant, or Charlie the tuna.
What can we expect from your show here in Toronto on April Fool’s Day? Um, well, the April Fool’s gag is that, after you see my show, you’ll be saying, “Oh my God, we paid money for that? I guess the joke is on us.”