There are not enough words in the English language to properly describe the deep sadness that has been brought onto this world today in the passing of Gilbert Gottfried, a comedian’s comedian. There was something magical and infectious about his persona on stage and screen that brought such enlightenment and delight to audiences cringing to the sound of his near shrill voice but that evoked such emotion and conviction to his roles. He even did his stage voice when he was performing in front of a live audience. Gilbert Gottfried was a dirty comedian, there is no denying that but his credits are 184 long on his acting according to IMDB, where he has done everything from being the iconic voice of Iago in Disney’s Aladdin to playing Adolf Hitler in Historical Roasts.
However, Gilbert Gottfried was not just the foul mouthed comedian who was in arguably one of the best Disney animated movies of all time, he was also a kind and gentle soul who brought so much joy and love to those that watched his work. He was that familiar face that you’d see and instantly get a chuckle from and have that extra minute of joy. The documentary titled simply, Gilbert, gives a great look into his life and his career and family. It shines a light on the man past the voice, past the characters he played, but who he really is. The documentary is available to rent on iTunes and I cannot highly recommend it enough, it truly is a one of a kind documentary on Gilbert Gottfried.
I had the pleasure of meeting Gilbert Gottfried after a screening of another documentary, The Last Laugh which Gilbert along many other wonderful comedians discuss the boundaries of comedy and more so, is the holocaust itself funny? The old expression of time + tragedy = comedy so it explores that idea and talks to survivors, comedians, and religious figures. Another great documentary, but alas that is not the point here. I went to talk to Gilbert after the documentary and we shared a brief conversation about 5-10 minutes long, he was very generous with his time. But what was more endearing about that moment was he wasn’t in character, he wasn’t Gilbert Gottfried the world knew, he was just himself and was just talking to someone who is a fan of his and his body of work. I talked to him about another documentary he was in, called Life, Animated which is about an autistic man who learned to overcome his diagnosis of being non-verbal (something that I am very closely related to) and learned to speak by watching Aladdin. He saw the movie more than anything else in the entire world, and when he got to meet Jonathan Freeman and Gilbert Gottfried it meant the world to him. That’s who Gilbert Gottfried was, he wasn’t just the foul mouthed comedian who told dirty jokes, and he wasn’t just the voice of the obnoxious parrot that is more annoying that Zazu, he was an everyman, who wore his heart on his sleeve and did everything in the world to make the world a funnier place. Hopefully now that he is resting he can shoot the shit with Robin Williams up in the sky and bring such more comedy to the heavens. Whether it is reminiscing this man by watching a plethora of his work or watching a two minute YouTube clip from College Humor of him doing an audio book reading of Fifty Shades of Grey, just know no matter what it is he will bring that infectious smile.
Rest in peace Gilbert Gottfried.