Even Gilbert Gottfried’s biggest fans admitted one thing about the comic legend.
He was a world-class cheapskate.
Stories abound of Gottfried squirreling away free products gleaned from hotels he visited during his decades-long career. We even saw a glimpse of that in “Gilbert,” the 2017 documentary capturing his unorthodox life.
Here’s how one journalist put it:
If the stock in his home is any indication, every Gottfried family member can wash their hair three times a day for the rest of their lives and there would still be hotel-size shampoo bottles left over.
Yet Gottfried, who died this week at 67 following a long illness, never treated his comedy, his art, like a skinflint.
To him, jokes were priceless, and he treated every barb accordingly.
That means everything in our current culture. And it’s why Gottfried’s absence on the comedy scene will be considerable.
You don’t need to work the stand-up circuit to know the pressure facing comedians today. Tell the wrong joke, at the wrong time, and you could be slapped, banned or made a cultural pariah.
Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and Jimmy Carr learned this lesson the hard way. Countless others pull their comic punches for fear of a woke backlash.
Gottfried never bowed to the mob or pulled a single punch. He joked about it instead.
“Twitter makes me feel sentimental for old-time lynch mobs,” he quipped. “The old mobs had to at least get their hands dirty. Now, all they do is sit on the couch in their underwear to form a mob.”
That’s not all he said on the subject.
He co-starred in 2015’s “Can We Take a Joke?” a documentary that predicted the current woke handcuffs most comedians endure now.
Gottfried famously told a 9/11 joke days after terrorists killed roughly 3,000 people in New York City. His “Aristocrats” gag, part of the documentary of the same name, became the stuff of comedy legends.
And, most famously, he lost his Aflac gig for telling a tasteless joke about the 2011 Japanese tsunami.
“I don’t regret the joke,” he said. “I regret losing the money.”
That was Gottfried then, and up until his very last breath. He didn’t “convert” to the woke orthodoxy like so many peers (Marc Maron, Amy Schumer, Jon Stewart, Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert rush to mind).
He might have seen a career boost had he done just that. Woke pays well in Hollywood today. Late night comics pull in gargantuan salaries by playing it safe.
Gottfried would rather cobble together hotel supplies than sell out.
Nor did he apologize for his older, more scabrous jokes. Instead, he charged ahead, becoming the very best guest any podcast could have. His 2020 appearance on “The Chip Chipperson Show” is one of the ages.
It’s ironic that Gottfried’s legendary appearances on “The Howard Stern Show” mysteriously ended several years ago. The so-called King of All Media reportedly found the comic too much, or too irreverent.
You read right! I just started a Twitter Jihad with none other than Gilbert Gottfried! PS: I actually love Gilbert but we both have been banned from the Howard Stern Show and we aren’t moving tickets like we used too. So I came up w this brilliant marketing plan!!
— Artie Lange (@artiequitter) May 29, 2018
That speaks volumes about the new, not-so-improved Stern and Gottfried.
Now, the raspy voiced comic is gone, and the comedy world has one less warrior to fight for free speech.
Not even Gottfried himself could find the funny in that.