R.I.P. Gilbert Gottfried

Some years back, I went to a roast at the Friar’s Club. It was a random experience, and, of course, incredible to be strolling through that iconic building, staring at the pictures on the walls of all those giants, Dean Martin and Mel Brooks, and etc. etc. the roasters and the roast-ees.

The night I went, Ricky Schroeder (excuse me: “Rick” Schroeder) was the subject of the Friar’s Club roast and Gilbert Gottfried was one of the roasters. There were others on the roasting panel but he is the only one I remember.

I always appreciated Gilbert Gottfried, but I did not fully “get it” until I saw him live that night: unscripted, riffing, unleashing his filthy-minded insanity upon the poor head of Ricky Schroeder. Gottfried’s roast of Ricky Schroeder was one of the craziest things I have ever seen in my life. I couldn’t even believe it as it was happening. It wasn’t just “beyond” the bounds of good taste or whatever. Gottfried’s roast was in outer space. The entire room was in a state of almost frozen shock, nobody could even believe what was happening. And by “shock” I don’t mean we were silent. The entire room was seized up with helpless laughter, shouts and screams and wailing: like I said, it was insane. What Gottfried was saying had nothing to do with Ricky the person. It was barely personal. (See Gottfried’s legendary roast of George Takei. His roast of Schroeder traveled on the same principles. You just couldn’t take it personally because it wasn’t personal.) Gottfried started some riff (he had nothing planned, nothing on paper), and then pushed it to absurdity beyond absurdity. The absurdity came because what he was roasting Schroeder for had nothing to do with the clean-cut guy sitting there. It was the juxtaposition between the riff and the man and how far he pushed it … to call it funny doesn’t seem right. He exploded civilization in the Friar’s Club that night. He reduced us to DUST. He obliterated the molecules in the air. He also forced a bunch of strangers to become one. We merged. People were literally hunched over in their chairs, falling over to the sides, wheezing and rocking and rolling and howling. The sound was explosive. It hurt – and I don’t even remember what the hell he even SAID. But it went on and on and on, and each comment built on the comment that came before, and if something worked, he dug in his heels and pushed it further … if something didn’t work, he’d skip on to the next thing – OR (like he did with Takei), he’d take the time to explain the joke – which was even funnier. Like we were too dumb to get it. The explanation was funnier than the joke. That roast was an ASSAULT, and it was insane and I am glad I was there to see it. The way other comics talk about him – witness the parade of them in The Aristocrats – speaks to his status among them.

I didn’t get it until I saw him that night. I was like “Ohhh. Okay. Understood. Got it.”

The host of the roast, by the way, was D.B. Sweeney of “Pamchenko” fame. If you know, you know. And “Rick”, unlike some people I could name, was a good sport about the whole thing. How could you not be? To be roasted by such a lunatic would be an honor.

This entry was posted in Actors, RIP. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to R.I.P. Gilbert Gottfried

  1. Tracey says:

    Gilbert Gottfried was one of those comedians who was ALWAYS funny. I remember him hearing him do an audio reading of Fifty Shades of Grey, and I was in tears of laughter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.