In memory of Gilbert Gottfried and his connection with the south coast

The world lost a comedy legend today when Gilbert Gottfried died at the age of 67.

For those who only knew him as “that funny talking guy”, Gottfried still had a memorable career. He was the voice of Iago in the Disney animated film Aladdinand also spent several years as the voice of the Aflac duck.

He’s made numerous appearances on TV, in movies, on radio shows and since he first hit with a season-long stint on Saturday Night Live in 1980, then later with success in films like Beverly Hills Cop II and problem child.

Yet for those who truly enjoyed comedy, Gottfried was the epitome of funny, often described as “a comedian’s comedian”. He is credited with bringing the longstanding tradition of telling ‘The Aristocrats’ jokes into the mainstream, when he began telling jokes about suicide bombers at a Hugh Heffner roast shortly after 9/11. and that he released “The Aristocrats” to win back an audience that had noisily turned against him. The incident eventually led to The aristocrats documentary in 2005.

Gottfried was also a talented impressionist, with notable impersonations of “old” Groucho Marx and Jerry Seinfeld, but also lesser-known Hollywood actors like John McGiver, Peter Lorre and Kevin McCarthy.

Since June 2014, he hosts Gilbert Gottfried’s Incredibly Colossal Podcast alongside co-host Frank Santopadre, keeping Old Hollywood alive with interviews with some of the biggest (and lesser-known) names in entertainment. He’s also become one of Cameo’s most in-demand celebrity talents in recent years.

He was also featured in the 2017 documentary Gilbertwhich showed the real man behind the comedian, and only endeared him more to the world.

Although I’ve always loved Gottfried as a comedian, his podcast gave me a whole new appreciation for the man, his spirit, and Hollywood history. My good friend John EL Tenney introduced me to the podcast in 2016, and I in turn introduced it to Taylor Cormier, now executive producer of The Howie Carr Showbut at the time, he was the news director for WBSM while I worked as the afternoon news anchor.

When covering the harsh South Coast news got too much, we could always dive into Gilbert’s work, the podcast, or some of the tangents caused by the stories covered in the podcast for a brief respite and some hearty laughs.

“I really came to appreciate Gilbert’s styles over the last few years after Tim Weisberg introduced me to his podcast. I got obsessed right away,” Taylor said. “The entertainment world has not only lost a great comedian, but also an unsung archivist of old Hollywood.”

Taylor and I were lucky enough to spend some time with Gottfried when he came to White’s of Westport in May 2019. The plan was for me to interview him for my Scary South Coast program on WBSM, and we were going to focus on Gilbert growing up as a “Monster Kid” and obsessed with Universal movie monsters.

We were brought to the area that would serve as the “green room” for the evening, and we set up our audio recording equipment and waited for him to arrive.

Gottfried was brought into the room by the staff and he was the antithesis of what you would expect of him, based on his stage persona; he was calm, he was courteous and he was willing to do anything we asked him to do.

Tim Weisberg/Townsquare Media

Tim Weisberg/Townsquare Media

When we told him how big of a fan we are of his work and his podcast, he gave us a trademark “Ohhhhh, thank you!” but really seemed touched by our admiration.

He was also surprised by our SouthCoast connection with his family – his wife, Dara, was a former record rep who visited Fun 107 frequently, meeting the legendary JR Reitz to share the latest music with him.

What was only supposed to be a five-minute interview lasted about 12 minutes when Gilbert had just started — and Taylor and I were too busy laughing to care about the time.

Once the interview was over, Gottfried sat down on the couch and enjoyed some of the food prepared for him before taking the stage and delivering a performance for the ages.

Tim Weisberg/Townsquare Media

Tim Weisberg/Townsquare Media

After the show, he sat at a table and signed every merchandise purchased and posed for every photo requested, until everyone went home happy.

Comedy has had a tough time lately, because we’ve lost some really great and funny people. Gottfried’s dear personal friends, Norm Macdonald and Bob Saget, recently passed away, and the stars he so admired and often interviewed are also slowly dying.

Somewhere in comedy heaven I’d like to think that Norm, Bob and Gilbert are all reunited, hanging out with Groucho and Johnny Carson and finally getting answers to all those questions they’ve always had about Cesar Romero, Paul Lynde , Danny Thomas and Marlon Brando (your podcast listeners will get these references).

Gilbert, for all the laughs you’ve given us over the years, all we can say is “Ohhhh, thank you!”

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