If you ask Gilbert Gottfried if he enjoys performing standup in Florida, don't expect to get a solid answer. "I know I've worked in Florida before. But with me, it's like there are states that I swear I've never been to, and then I go in the comedy club, and see that I've signed the wall," Gottfried says during a phone interview. "It's like a movie where the character has amnesia and, all of a sudden, he sees a doorknob or an ashtray, and he gets some kind of flashback."
Despite a long history of film and television work, Gottfried may be best known for losing his job as the voice of the Aflac duck in 2011 because of jokes he made about the Japanese tsunami. He'll perform this weekend at the Fort Lauderdale Improv.
You recently appeared on [the ABC series] "Celebrity Wife Swap." How did that happen?
Well, I kept saying no to it, and then, after a while, you realize these kind of reality shows aren't like these weird, extra shows anymore. These are the shows. It was either that or "Celebrity Rehab," but [Dr. Drew] doesn't have a good batting average. Out of every 10 people, eight of them die. Dr. Drew has killed more people than Dr. Kevorkian.
Do you think you're controversial?
Well, I get in trouble a lot and lose a job here and there. But I think the vast majority of people don't really fall for any of that stuff, thinking that it's so horrible if they hear a joke that they think is quite simple.
It seems like comedians of long ago got away with saying whatever they liked onstage, whereas nowadays they have to be more PC.
Yeah, it's like if the Rat Pack — Frank, Dino and Sammy — were doing jokes about Sammy being black or them being Italian gangsters. Forget it. Now, there'd be an outrage all over the Internet, like, "How dare they say such insensitive things?"
Speaking of the Internet, do you own an iPhone or iPad?
My technology is like the Flintstones. I still have one of those phones that flips open. When I take the phone out, people are staring at me like it's a sight gag. I've never tried to send a text or would I ever know how. I was on a train about a year ago, and I saw there was some kind of message on my phone, so I had to turn to some man sitting there and say, "Do you know how I can get a message on my phone?"
But you tweet to fans a lot.
I figured out how to tweet and lose jobs at the same time, and become public enemy No. 1. But yes, I have figured out how to tweet. ... I'm basically like a chimpanzee, but I can't do it on my phone, because on my phone I can barely get calls on.
Your IMDB resume is quite impressive. Do you have a dream role?
Probably to be the next James Bond.
Gilbert Gottfried will perform Friday through Sunday at the Fort Lauderdale Improv, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 5700 Seminole Way, in Hollywood. Tickets cost $22. Go to Ftl.Improv.com.