Gilbert Gottfried
ursday, Nov. 17–Saturday, Nov. 19
Goodnights Comedy Club, Raleigh

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried’s voice is one of the most recognizable in America, though his X-rated jokes stand in stark contrast with the hoarse shout that has given life to so many advertising and cartoon characters, including the parrot in Disney’s Aladdin.

A veteran of stand-up since his teenage years, Gottfried joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1980 and then broke through into film, his outlandish humor earning him prominent roles in the Problem Child franchise and other slapstick comedies. Recently, in addition to voiceover and acting work, Gottfried has been touring his stand-up around the nation and releasing Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast! (just don’t ask him where to find it online).

Not long before last week’s election, we spoke to the man behind the voice before his three-night stand at Goodnights Comedy Club, which begins tonight.

INDY: Have you seen a lot of things change since you started your career, in what’s considered funny or how people get their work out there?

GILBERT GOTTFRIED: The funny thing is, like the second I thought I vaguely understood how showbiz works, everything changed. You know, what with the Internet and all these other forms of entertainment. It totally confuses me, a lot of it. I mean, there are people who work the clubs now who are Internet sensations, and it’s like a mob scene to get in. So yeah, it’s totally changed.

How did you get into doing the podcast? That’s pretty tech-savvy.

That’s one of those things that, I guess, it was really my wife’s idea. I don’t really understand it myself. I’ll sometimes have guests, like older guests, on, and they’ll go, “I don’t know what a podcast is,” and I’ll say to them, “Well, I really don’t know either.” I don’t think I’d know how to find my podcast if you asked me.

What are the pros and cons of having such a famous voice?

For me, most of it has been a pro, and certainly I can’t argue with the parrot in Aladdin and the other jobs I’ve gotten because of it. It always got me when I hear these actors who say, “Oh, I keep getting cast as this one character.” To me, or to any actor that’s been out of work, you always feel great to get cast as one character. I’m one of those people who feels like if someone said to me, you’ll be in movies and TV as Joe the mailman but you can’t play anything but Joe the mailman, I’d say “Great! Where do I sign?”

What it’s like to do comedy with the election cycle right now?

I never really did much in the way of political stuff. I know there’s certainly stuff to do jokes about now, without question, although this election, it seems like to do a joke on it is overkill. I think the election itself is so ridiculous—how do you top it?

Do you have an idea going in about how much improv you’ll do versus planned jokes?

I never really know until I’m up there. It’s always nice when something happens that makes you improvise, because sometimes when it’s bits you’ve been doing you can go on autopilot up there, and that’s kind of boring.

Do you have any influences in comedy?

I guess I’ve had them over the years, but none that I could really say “this one,” so I guess I was a fan of a little of everyone. Growing up was an interesting time because there were a lot of old movies on TV. I got to be a fan of the Marx Brothers movies, and these older comics like Milton Berle and Henny Youngman, and those people were still alive. You know, all of them. And then there were the younger, new breed of comics that came along in the sixties and seventies, George Carlin and people like that. But I can’t really look at my act and say “OK, it’s this guy or this guy.”

Is there anything you’d want people to know about the show or you in general?

Hmm. You know, me in general is kind of boring. The show—I hope if you go you’re not disappointed. Anything I put out there, whether it’s my show or a TV appearance or a book or a DVD, I always feel like at the very least I want it to be like a slice of pizza and a grape drink. You know, it’s like if you’re hungry you could get a halfway decent slice of pizza and a grape drink. It might not be great gourmet, but at least it fills you up and you enjoy having it. And I feel like that’s always the very least I ask for with stuff I put out.