Gilbert Gottfried’s Iconic Voice Defined His Comedy Career
If some singers are said to possess the voice of an angel, then Gilbert Gottfried’s voice might be compared to that of a demon. Gottfried spoke with a loud, raspy, aggressive, and shouting voice that could be heard through video. His spittle was almost visible in the air as he took each breath.
It was precisely this unique delivery that attracted fans around the globe to Gottfried’s incomparable performances. And over and over again he complied: voicing children’s cartoons like the parrot Iago in Aladdin; reciting filthy material like Cardi B’s “WAP” and Go the F*ck to SleepYou pretend to be Breaking Bad’s Walter White or Harry Potter’s Draco Malfoy. Gottfried’s voice, and his unimpeachable commitment to wielding it, made him a beloved and towering comedic presence for decades. At 67, he died from muscular dystrophy.
Gottfried’s voice wasn’t a natural gift: it was a craft. His early videos from Saturday Night LiveHe speaks in a different style. His 1980 castmates reveal that he spoke in an almost mellifluous tone. After 12 episodes, he got poor ratings and was dismissed. “I didn’t like the writers and the writers hated me,” he said on the Joe Rogan ExperienceLast year.
So he decided instead to lean into his “pure stupidity,” as he would later describe himself,And build a persona based on irascible antagonism. Gottfried didn’t need a lot of onscreen time to leave a mark: in minutes-long scenes in Beverly Hills Cop II and Problem Child II, he lit up scenes in the guise of arrogant motormouths tangling with the film’s respective heroes. The latter scene, in particular, is sublime evidence of his full-throated commitment to repugnance: he lets out a blood-curdling scream as the mischievous third-grader Junior walks into the room, before yelping in his face, “Your dad is a moron!!!”
Gottfried’s voice was introduced to millions of children around the world via the ill-tempered parrot Iago in Aladdin. Will Finn was the animator who designed the parrot in order to look like Gottfried with his overexaggerated facial expressions. Broadway’s Broadway Cast of Aladdin paid tribute to Gottfried, with current Iago portrayer Don Darryl Rivera saying onstage, “I think one of the main reasons this character is who he is, is because of what Gilbert brought to the animated film: his comedy and that voice. The voice of Gottfried that New York City adores. Times once said sounded like a ‘busted Cuisinart.’”
Gottfried’s signature voice would remain constant throughout the evolution of comedy, from VHS tapes and YouTube videos to podcasts. Gottfried signed up happily for concept skits which were based only on his voice. 50 Shades Of GreyOr hawking a fake meditation app that asked listeners for their first ever enema. A popular podcast was hosted by him. Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal PodcastThis article is about the past eras in Hollywood comedy and Hollywood.
Cameo is an app which allows users to request voice messages from famous people. He was particularly fond of it. “This is Simba from The Lion King and I wanted to tell you about my latest business: This is Simba’s Sh*itpit,” he screamed in oneStraight-faced. A YouTube group discovered Gottfried could read most scripts, even those that were extremely sexual, and take them as his own. The results are far too disgusting and profane to print—and left the YouTubers in complete stitches.
Just like his good friend Bob Saget—another shock-driven comedian who also passed away this year—Gottfried was fearless in pushing the envelope toward tastelessness for the sake of humor and discomfort. When he hosted the Emmys in 1991, he shocked the audience with a bit about Pee-Wee Herman actor Paul Reuben’s recent arrest on an indecent exposure charge. Gottfried said that he never was invited back to tape-delayed broadcasts. In the fall of 2001, Gottfried was one of the first prominent comedians to tell a 9/11 joke, which was met with cries of “too soon” from his audience. “I thought he meant that I didn’t take a long enough pause between the setup and the punchline,” he later joked on Late Night With Seth Meyers.
While his joke offended many, Gottfried explained his thinking to Meyers, saying, “In situations like that, people need to laugh… They desperately want to laugh.” Gottfried wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but that was exactly the point: he hoped to leave a bad taste in your mouth—and to leave your sides hurting from laughter.
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