PUBLISHED IN THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR Thursday, February 26, 1997

 

By Nick Krewen

 

 

If you ever buy GILBERT GOTTFRIED a sandwich, don't offer him any Miracle Whip as a choice of condiment.

It seems that Gottfried, the squinting comedian who has made a career out of his obnoxious, high-decibel Brooklyn accent, is on the outs with Kraft, for whom he once recorded a voice-over for a commercial that featured him as a jar of Miracle Whip.

According to Gottfried, Kraft pulled the plug on the spot one day without warning and replaced his voice with one that was much more bland.

"That's a funny story," recalls the Manhattan-based Gottfried from his Toronto hotel prior to launching a week of Yuk Yuk's comedy club appearances around Ontario.

"I was doing the voice-over for a while, and then somebody with the company heard me on (shock jock) HOWARD STERN's radio show and got very offended, and they fired me. I guess they thought I was too dirty for their pure product."

Gottfried says he's still mystified as to what exact words he uttered to justify his termination.

"God knows," he says. "Maybe I said something nice about ketchup. Anyway, I prefer to eat Hellman's Mayonnaise. Miracle Whip tastes like that white paste you use to use when you were in grade school. I've been making hand puppets with Miracle Whip."

Kraft isn't the only employer displeased by his mouth. Gottfried, who reveals his age to be "older than THE OLSEN TWINS and younger than THE GOLDEN GIRLS," also recalls an Emmy Awards broadcast where he joked about PAUL REUBENS -- PEE WEE HERMAN to you -- sex scandal where the comedian was caught masturbating in a sex cinema.

"I said if masturbation is a crime, then I'm on Death Row," chuckles Gottfried. "By the age of 12, little did I know I was AL CAPONE. But some people at The FOX Network, which airs Married With Children and The Simpsons of all things, were extremely offended."

And during a comedy club appearance, Gottfried reports that his material forced the exit of a one-time disco queen.

"One time I did a joke about Jesus, and DONNA SUMMER walked out of my show, presumably on the way to record more of her orgasm disco records," he laughs.

Although he's made numerous guest appearances on the aforementioned Married With Children, Night Court, and The Bill Cosby Show -- as well as hosting The USA Network's Up All Night weekly festival of B-movies -- Gottfried says his nightclub material is a combination of "some improv, some rifle. Actually, the audience brings a rifle."

He's also appeared in such memorable films as Beverly Hills Cop II, a couple of Problem Child films, RODNEY DANGERFIELD's current Meet Wally Sparks and the unforgettable B-movie classic, Highway To Hell, where he played ADOLF HITLER.

"I guess they needed a Jew to play Hitler," he deadpans.

But his most memorable role is a more animated one: as the parrot Iago in the Disney series of Aladdin films, videos and products.

"I'm in the middle of working on an Aladdin CD-ROM," says Gottfried. "Actually, I just want kids to read this article so they'll buy the product. I can just hear all those parents now who are reading this going, `Oh damn him.'"

Although his public persona is loud and obnoxious, the former Saturday Night Live cast member, class of 1980, seems private and uninterested in talking about himself. Gottfried allows that he was born in Brooklyn, lives in Manhattan and is single, though not necessarily by choice.

"I can't even find someone for a platonic relationship, much less the kind where someone wants to see me naked. And I have no respect for anyone who sees me naked."

Gottfried also reveals that he works often, but not at the breakneck pace of some of his contemporaries.

"I've never been one of those who wanted to fill my calendar up 90 percent of the time," he says. "I'm not like JAY LENO or JERRY SEINFELD who has an upcoming lunch break and decides to use it to fly to Taiwan and play a club."

Perhaps the biggest surprise about Gilbert Gottfried is how soft-spoken and reserved he is over the phone. It'd probably be deafening for someone to grate on people's nerves all day with that blaring loudspeaker voice of his, but Gottfried assures that nature provides its own form of protection.

"I'm like a bat," he says. "Whenever bats screech, membranes cover up their ears to protect them."

 

-30-

©1997, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink

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