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Gilbert Gottfried calls himself a 'Jewnami' for a reason

Comic Gilbert Gottfried on the Jimmy Fallon show, May 26, 2011.

Lloyd Bishop / NBC

There he was, rocking like a hurricane.

"So, nothing happened in Japan today, did it? I find I can't be too careful. Even a little drizzle, I want to know about it."

Whoever said that comedy is tragedy plus time never had a Twitter account. Gilbert Gottfried, the scrunched-up American surrealist with the grinding voice, was swiftly insensitive when he tweeted gags about the tragic flooding in Japan too soon after the watery natural disaster of 2011. "I was talking to my Japanese real-estate agent," he typed back then. "I said 'is there a school in this area?' She said 'not now, but just wait.'"

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Gottfried addressed the issue right from the top of his raunchy, outrageously hilarious set of stand-up at Yuk Yuk's, where he referred to himself as a "Jewnami" and lamented the fact that he had lost all of his jobs and endorsements because of the controversy. All of his jobs, he said, except for his three nights in Toronto. "And this was the one I was praying to lose," he cracked.

Did he apologize? Of course not. Gottfried is an unashamed humorist, with a reputation that precedes him as daintily as an air-raid siren.

Gottfried is not particular about his insults – any and all types are fishes in his barrel. That being said, he absolutely looks down on little people. He wondered if he were to sit next to one on an airplane, could he use them as personal flotation device? When the plane landed, would he be required to return a diminutive adult to the upright position? "I just don't accept midgets as human beings," he explained. "There's only so much political correctness I can accept."

Apparently so.

Given that she's some years out of the spotlight, the thin actress Calista Flockhart would probably consider herself safe from ridicule. But no, Gottfried reached back. "Her doctors found a suspicious lump. Turns out she'd swallowed a jelly bean."

Imitations of David Brenner talking to Bill Cosby? That's Friar's Club stuff, at least 30 years old. But Curly Howard (of the Three Stooges) as Johann Strauss, that's just timeless.

More importantly, it's singular. And that's where Gottfried shines. Yes, he's stunningly tactless, but brilliantly so. Take him or leave him, but please don't water him down.

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Gilbert Gottfried

  • At Yuk Yuk’s
  • in Toronto on Thursday

Gilbert Gottfried is at Yuk Yuk's Friday and Saturday for two sets each night.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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