Well, he was always nice to me! RIP, Gilbert Gottfried
Listeners of Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast are very familiar with one of his favorite catch phrases. After many a lengthy episode intro, delving into every detail of the guest's career, Gilbert would wrap up by adding "It always feels like I should say found dead in his New York apartment". 2022 seems to have made a sport out of taking people from us too soon. Friends, family... and now, sadly, Gilbert.
I've had the pleasure of working with Gilbert many times over the years, long before my involvement with his podcast. He would come in for recording sessions and shock me with his humble and quiet demeanor. In one of those moments before a session, he asked "Where are all the snacks that are usually in the studio?". I spun around in my chair and said "Gilbert do I LOOK like I need to be surrounded by snacks??". That was when I got my first big Gilbert laugh. I wore that as a badge of honor, until I realized it was quite easy to get that kind of burst out of him. I’ll miss that infamous cackle.
A couple of years later, during a cartoon recording session, I got to meet his amazing wife Dara for the first time. Gilbert in the presence of Dara was a very different person, which is something I would see time and time again in the years that followed. Unattended, Gilbert was quiet and usually spoke when spoken to by clients or while waiting for a podcast session to start. But when Dara was in the mix, he was a much more upbeat version of himself. It always amazed me how quickly that quiet, almost shy person instantly transformed when I hit record. That's when the Gilbert we all know and love came to life!
My involvement with Gilbert's podcast was one of those happy accidents, and I'll always be grateful for that period of time in my career. Not because of all the celebrities that flowed through Nutmeg to be guests on the show. Not for all the stories and laughs in the booth week after week. But for Gilbert's quiet strength and grace under pressure through it all. Anyone that's seen his documentary 'Gilbert', wonderfully filmed by Neil Berkely, has seen Gilbert behind the scenes- simultaneously working clubs while tending to his dying sister. It's one of the most touching parts of this or any film I've ever seen. I can still remember seeing the first screening in my studio with a small group of people gathered around. I sat at the producer's desk in the back of the room, and had to shrink back a bit to hide my tears. Looking around the room, I wasn't alone.
During that period of time he also had his own struggles, that are certainly not for me to discuss. There were many an episode of the podcast where he'd get teased for being too quiet or not participating. There was always a part of me that wanted to yell "I'd like to see YOU deliver the comedy goods with all this shit going on in your life". I know how I feel when I have to smile through my workday knowing there is chaos in my personal life. For Gilbert, it was a lot- and barring some quiet moments in the podcast, and beyond a relatively small circle of friends and family, you would never know. That to me is a kind of strength and quiet dedication that we rarely see, and I respected him for it tremendously. Being a brilliant comedian just made it a little more fun to watch!
The comedy world lost an icon. Courageous jokes. Bizarrely brilliant humor. A piercing voice that told truth to power. But more importantly, a beloved husband, father and friend to so many. There's an irony to him being gone "too soon".
"He was always nice to me!". RIP, Gilbert.