Welcome to Next Question With Michael Musto, a regular feature in which Musto uses his time-honed skills to interrogate big celebrities, former celebrities, and wannabe celebrities. Musto is a pop culture icon, regular TV presence, and the author of four books.
Gilbert Gottfried squints, screams out politically incorrect things, and makes the dummies squirm. The Brooklyn-born comic, who made it OK to laugh again after 9/11, keeps his fans squealing via gilbertgottfried.com, though this is where he addresses his (surely temporary) bouts of sexlessness and joblessness.
Hi, Gilbert. When people call your comedy style “grating,” how do you react?
It means they’re familiar with me, so I have to be happy with that.
Do you suffer from low self-esteem, by any chance?
Yeah, or none.
Why? Were you abused as a kid?
Yeah, but I’m saving it for my next book and my appearance on Oprah.
You didn’t get the memo that she’s not on anymore?
Oh, God, now you tell me! So I was sexually abused by my parents for nothing? Now I’m really mad at them.
Are you capable of having a healthy relationship?
No, I don’t think so. I’m certainly incapable of getting laid.
Don’t comics have groupies?
I’m still waiting for that. Over the years, people have told me there are these towns where comedians are looked upon as rock stars and get their clothes ripped off. I think, “Can you please tell me what town this is? I’m still looking for it on the map.”
You’ve never had anyone waiting for you after a show?
To punch me. Girls will say, “Oh my God, I’m your biggest groupie.” Then they get embarrassed and laugh and say, “Oh, I don’t mean that kind of groupie.” Gee, thanks, because I was scared for a second I was going to get a blow job! Or you get a girl who goes, “I’m your biggest fan. So are you doing anything after the show?” I say, “No.” She says, “Well, do you want to go out and have a couple of drinks?” I say “OK” and she says, “Oh, great, I’ll tell my boyfriend.”
Ugh. Well, you’re married anyway. Do you feel awkward on the rare occasions when you do have sex?
Yes. That’s why I won’t even go to the beach.
What? But you’re Jewish!
To make up for it, I order twice as much Chinese food and I say, “Is this item on sale?” twice as much.
Let’s move onto other humiliations. You were the Ben Affleck duck.
That’s a common mistake. I was the Matt Damon duck.
What did you say about Japan that got you fired by Aflac?
One thing l tweeted was, “Japan is very advanced. They don’t go to the beach, the beach comes to them.” But I do jokes like that all the time. To me, it was like getting up every morning and having a bowl of corn flakes and one day you eat a bowl of corn flakes and all hell breaks loose. Before the Internet was invented, whenever there was a tragedy in the news, everybody would start exchanging jokes about it—at the water cooler, riding together on the train, wherever. And no one died from anyone making the joke. Now I always feel like jokes should have instructions with them. “If you think it’s funny, laugh. If you don’t, don’t laugh.” People say, “How can you do those kinds of jokes? Aren’t you aware of the tragedy?” I absolutely am aware of it. That’s where the jokes come from! I’m not doing jokes about a picnic in the country. It’s being totally aware of the horror of a situation that jokes like that stem from. I’m sure at the crucifixion, there were people making jokes.
Yeah, Joan Rivers.
She was only 60. She dated God.
That was right after September 11 and it was in New York. People were walking around the street like zombies. I decided to break the ice. I said, “I have to leave early. I couldn’t get a direct flight. They have to stop at the Empire State Building.” You couldn’t have lost an audience any worse than that. There were some people gasping, booing, and hissing. One guy yelled, “Too soon,” which I thought meant I didn’t take a long enough pause between the setup and the punchline. If you said I’d been up there for 200 years, I’d believe it. Then I went into the Aristocrats joke, which I wasn’t planning. I figured, “What the hell? Go to the bottom level of hell already.” Well, it’s a joke about bestiality and incest, and they were exploding laughing. I think people pick and choose what to get offended by. Terrorist attack—bad taste. Incest, bestiality, shitting, and pissing? Perfectly OK.
Speaking of bestiality, you were the voice of the parrot in Aladdin. Did you draw on that when playing the Matt Damon duck?
It’s a weird thing how many birds I’ve played. And I was a goose in this movie that God knows where it is called Jack and the Beanstalk. In that one, they actually had me in a bird costume. If your next question is, “Do you have any ounce of self respect?”, that answers that one.
What’s your ultimate goal onstage?
That nobody throws a chair and my check doesn’t bounce. I always feel it’s at least a slice of pizza and a grape drink that the audience gets from me. I just hope they don’t throw anything. As long as they don’t become violently ill—like women do when I have sex. Hours of throwing up blood.
You’re that endowed?
I hate to brag. That’s why I only tell the press.