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Gilbert Gottfried headlines Valentine's Day comedy

Gilbert Gottfried headlines Valentine's Day comedy

Raspy-voiced comedian joins Kevin Downey Jr. and Thea Vidale
Gilbert Gottfried headlines Valentine's Day comedy
Stand-up comedian and actor Gilbert Gottfried.
Photographer: Provided

Comedy is not just for couples.

At Proctors, at least, comedy is for singles, couples and everyone in between. On Valentine’s Day, as part of the Valentines "Heart-On" Adult Comedy Show, four comedians will take the stage hoping to make the audience laugh about love.

Lynne Koplitz, known as the host of “Change of Heart” and most recently for her Netflix comedy special, will be performing alongside Kevin Downey Jr., Thea Vidale and Gilbert Gottfried.

Gottfried, the raspy-voiced comedian known for his role in Disney’s “Aladdin”; as the former voice of the Aflac duck; for a brief stint on Saturday Night Live; and, of course, for his stand-up comedy, is the headlining act. “Gilbert,” a documentary about his life offstage as well as on, was released in 2017. He took a few minutes to talk about his career, the new documentary and how he learned the difference between funny and not funny.

Q: So you have [an interesting] career ... you’re right at the intersection of Disney and adult comedy. What in the world got you into comedy in the first place?

A: I think I was too stupid to do anything else. It’s a weird business to go into. 

Q: Was there a certain family member or another comedian who inspired you?

A: Yeah, I mean as far as people I’ve seen on TV or movies, I’m sure they all kinda made a mark here and there on me. After a while, I started just imitating people on TV and the first couple of times I was onstage when I first started, my act was basically like Rich Little or people like that. Back when they used to have impressionists. They don’t have those anymore.

Q: Why do you think that is?

A: I don’t know. I mean Jim Carey started as just a fairly standard impressionist.

Q: At what age did you decide to go into [comedy]?

A: Well that was very weird. I was young and I started to get interested in joking around and doing voices. Then my sister had a friend who said that there’s some club in Manhattan that you just go there and [perform]. Both of us had different ideas of what this club was so I’m not sure [which] it was. I should know this, but I don’t. I was 15, the first time I got up on the stage.

Q: Were you nervous?

A: Once again, I think I was too stupid to be nervous. I definitely had stupidity on my side. . . to think I could have a career in show business and ignore the odds. Now, none of it makes sense.

Q: [A documentary recently came out about you]. What was it like to film?

A: It was a very strange process. It was a weird thing because I never actually agreed. I never actually wanted a documentary on me and there was this filmmaker, Neil Berkeley, he came up to me and said, "I’ve always dreamt about doing a Gilbert Gottfried documentary." I said “Well, you should dream a lot higher than that." Then he just started following me around. It was very uncomfortable for the most part. And it’s uncomfortable for me to watch. I mean, the reviews have all been good. I’m shocked by how good the reviews have been.

Q: How long was he following you around for?

A: About a year and a half to two years.

Q: Did you expect [a documentary] as extensive as [“Gilbert”]?

A: After a while, when they’re following me around like that, you’re kinda going "Is this really going to be anything?" It’s like having a part in a movie or a TV show. Sometimes you’re going, "Is this actually going to be in the theater or whatever?"

Q: Is it weird to have people know more about your life than you [intended] or wanted?

A: Oh absolutely. I always think of that scene from "The Wizard of Oz" where it’s like, "Ignore that man behind the curtain." Just like in "The Wizard of Oz," the curtain is pulled back and you see the almighty wizard is just this guy operating lights and sounds behind the curtain.

Q: How do you prepare for each show?

A: I don’t have that professional of a work ethic. I don’t really prepare much.

Q: There seem to be a few jokes that people always ask for when you perform. Will you be bringing the classics to the show [at Proctors]?

A: Yeah, but classics makes it too respectable.

Q: What other word should we use?

A: Crap.

Q: Do you ever feel pressure at certain shows to [try to censor] yourself? Or do you try to steer clear [of censoring yourself]?

A: I steer clear of that, which is why I get in trouble.

Q: There’ve been a few times where, as you say, you’ve gotten into trouble. One of the most memorable times was [shortly after 9/11].

A: It was a few days after Sept. 11 and it was like the Hugh Hefner roast, and that was taking place in New York to make it worse. There was that hanging over the room and I just felt like addressing the elephant in the room. So I did a Sept. 11 joke and people were booing and hissing and gasping. One person yelled "Too soon!" which I thought meant I didn’t take a long enough pause in between the setup and the punchline. Then I go into "The Aristocrats" joke, thinking "Well, I can’t loss them any further. I might as well go right to the bottom of the lapel." And that has to do with bestiality and that they loved. They were cheering and laughing. So I realized terrorism attack, bad taste. Incest and bestiality, good taste. But it showed they needed to laugh at that point.

Valentines 'Heart-On' Adult Comedy Show

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14
WHERE: Proctors
TICKETS: $25 and up
BUY: proctors.org

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