Comedy club audiences might know him as a standup guy, and millions of children know him as the lovable parrot in “Aladdin,” but Gilbert Gottfried underwhelmed 600 studio and exhibition execs at a recent Gotham gathering.
The comedian bombed big at last week’s charity bash tribute to Sony Pictures Releasing prexy Jeff Blake, sweating his way through a routine marked by anti-gay humor and crude Michael Jackson jokes. The audience, there to raise money for the Queens, N.Y., affiliate of Variety – The Children’s Charity (no relation to this newspaper), didn’t get it, and those that got it didn’t like it.
Interspersed with nervous laughter and the odd catcall (“Turn off the microphone!”) were more than a few walkouts.
Canton to the rescue
Undeterred, Gottfried plowed through a relentlessly unfunny 30 minutes, finally turning the stage over to Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group chairman Mark Canton.
The studio exec got what might be the biggest laugh of his life – certainly the biggest of the night – when he quipped, “And to think I was worried about following the comedian.” He then lambasted Republican Sen. Bob Dole’s anti-Hollywood crusade.
Additional response to Gottfried came later, and apparently was more savage than anything Hollywood’s come up with for Dole: The morning after the event, organizers appealed to a higher authority, registering a complaint against the comedian with the William Morris Agency.
Gottfried’s agent apologized for the comedian, noting later, “It was one of those times when the artist and crowd didn’t mesh.”