Gilbert Gottfried apologizes for terrible insensitive tweets about Japan


Right after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, comic Gilbert Gottfried put out a series of incredibly insensitive tweets, some graphic, that made light of the tragedy and mocked the victims. It was shocking really that anyone would think that was ok or somehow funny, and he was fired as the voice of the Aflac duck on those annoying commercials as a result. (You can read the tweets on this link, they’re so bad I don’t want to reprint them.)

After that, Gottfried got canned by Aflac, who issued a statement that this was not ok and did not reflect what they represent:

“Gilbert’s recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac,” the company, which does 75% of its business in Japan, said in a statement. “There is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times.”

[via Huffington Post]

Gottfried eventually apologized, but it was one of those apologies that sounds like it blames people for misinterpreting his “humor.” He didn’t say he was way out of line or anything or that he should check himself.

“I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my attempt at humor regarding the tragedy in Japan,” Gottfried, 56, the voice of the duck since 2000, says in a statement. “I meant no disrespect, and my thoughts are with the victims and their families.”

[From People]

There’s a time and place for humor, and it’s too soon to make jokes like this. It’s not funny and it’s not right. Maybe this ass will realize that now that it’s hitting him where it hurts. Nasal duck voices are a dime a dozen.


Japanese Aflac commercial:

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40 Responses to “Gilbert Gottfried apologizes for terrible insensitive tweets about Japan”

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  1. Dina says:

    Just as gross as 50 Cent’s tweets.

    And it’s not ‘too soon’ to make stupid jokes like these.. it’s just NEVER ok.

  2. Rita says:

    Well put CB. He was insensitive and unaware of his “mouth run”. I don’t think he meant it to be harmful but like the classroom clown, he went too far.

  3. gloaming says:

    You have to really wonder about a persons morality if he can joke about something like this…..then issue a hollow apology……

  4. orion70 says:

    Good for Afflac for canning this guy. It’s good to see people finally stepping up to the plate and doing something about their vocal “celebrities” instead of mollycoddling them. He can freely say what he wants, no reason why Afflac should continue to financially reward him for it.

    50 Cent is just a flat out idiot for his twitter comments. He’d be laughing out the other side of his mouth if the shoe was on the other foot.

  5. Shelley says:

    You’re absolutely right, that isn’t an apology but then someone who would think that these grim and obscene tweets are even close to funny is obviously and truly a hateful person. And I mean, full of hate. Appalling!!

  6. Quest says:

    Inappropriate and insensitive …you cannot be so desperate for a joke to make fun of such a major diaster

  7. Micki says:

    I would do the impossible but to send him for 3 months as a helper in Japan. Either to search for bodies in the ruins or to distribute goods/med. help ets. between the living. Afterwards he’s free to come home and keep making his tasteless jokes if he likes.
    There is gut-wrenching news every evening here.To see some elderly lady who tries desperately to keep a brave face when all she wants is to break down and cry, is …well I don’t have words for it. All the families torn apart with little to no hope to meet again…
    It’s not funny now and it’s not going to be funny in 100 years when this whole nation will be still prisoner of such desaster.

    This man had the easy way out.

  8. Eve says:

    There’s a time and place for humor, and it’s too soon to make jokes like this.

    Not too soon. This kind of joke should NEVER be made.

  9. jc126 says:

    He’s not the only one. There’s been LOTS of stupid Japan comments, including one from a WNBA player who said God doesn’t make mistakes and alluded to divine retribution for Pearl Harbor, and the press secretary of a politician (think it was Haley Barbour, not positive) resigned after getting caught sending tacky Japan jokes.
    Hateful. I remember people doing this after the Challenger. I think with some people it’s that they’re genuinely bigots toward the affected group, with others it’s a combination of insensitivity and an unconscious desire to deny their fear that some catastrophe could befall them, and to deny/deflect away their own feelings and fears about death.

  10. Jag says:

    Wow, there are some awful people in this world. Gottfried is just the latest. He hasn’t been funny in a long time, and I’m really happy that Aflak fired him.

  11. Mandy says:

    I must be the only person who wasn’t terribly offended, because I know that this is what Gilbert Gottfried DOES. Didn’t the Aflac people ever watch The Aristocrats? It was horrible and wrong (and it was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life). I believe that there is NOTHING that can’t be joked about. And I mean that. That said, these particular jokes just weren’t funny.

  12. The Bobster says:

    So he told some bad jokes. He’s never been funny unless properly staged.

  13. Micki says:

    @ jc126: I didn’t know about this WNBA player’s joke but out of curiosity: what had God had in mind punishing “rightfully” Florida, Lousiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia with Katrina? I think this narrow-minded creature couldn’t discern God’s misterious ways that well and became a joke herself.

  14. Eve says:

    There’s been LOTS of stupid Japan comments, including one from a WNBA player who said God doesn’t make mistakes and alluded to divine retribution for Pearl Harbor

    @ jc126:

    She actually said that? Wow, that’s really low (and stupid).

  15. Circe says:

    I’ve always hated him for no particular reason. Good to see I now have a reason.

  16. Melanie says:

    Eh, I’m sure this didn’t really teach him any lesson. He still has other jobs, I think he still does the voice for a bird on cyber chase among other things.

    Anyway, I’m not near as offended by his joke (which was pretty tame for him) than I am by Glenn Beck or that WNBA lady insinuating that this is a sign from God. At least Gottfried was making an offensive JOKE, which is what he does for a living (So, I’m not shocked by it). Those other two, were being serious and offensive. It was offensive to the victims and God. The jokes may have been tacky to say it at this time but I’d rather see the other two punished.

  17. Jag says:

    Aflac needs to hear what you think of their firing Gilbert Gottfried for his horrible “jokes” about Japan’s crisis. They’ve been getting calls angry with them for firing him, so if you feel that they were correct in firing him, please email them at so that they know that they did the right thing. To call, their number is (706) 596-3493, but emailing gives them a record of what you said. I don’t believe he’s learned anything, and that he’s just going to try to get his job back. Please email them if you agree that firing him was a good thing. :)

  18. lucy2 says:

    They’re well within their right to fire him, he was a representative and employee of their company and his behavior was not in keeping with their standards. I bet the angry people calling are incorrectly yelling about “free speech”, as people who don’t fully understand that concept often do in situations like this.

    I think his and the other comments are horribly insensitive, and I don’t understand how anyone could see what’s happening there and joke about it, or basically say “they had it coming”, but it seems every time there’s a terrible tragedy like this, the morons crawl out from under their rocks.
    I guess the only thing to do is look on the bright side at all the people who have come together to help, donate, pray, etc.

  19. jay says:

    His comments were beyond tasteless and while a comic, shock or not, does say these things, it doesn’t make it right nor does it excuse lacking moral decency towards a fellow human being. I saw where he’s being defended because “it’s what he does” but Aflac DIDN’T hire him for his lame, crude jokes but for his annoying raspy voice. They didn’t ask him to roast anyone, didn’t ask him to use that voice for anything other than voicing their duck. Big difference. He can still be his obnoxious self all he wants but he did so in a public forum, in poor taste, and his employer canned him for the insensitivity he displayed, which reflected on them because he represented their firm recognizably, so they were connected. I don’t feel a minute of pity for him and it’s not a jab against First Amendment rights. Please, even the fucking Westboro Church has been, erroneously imo, allowed to continue their bullshit; but if they worked for Aflac they’d be canned. Maybe the Court shoulda asked the duck?

  20. Sharonkings says:

    I love GG and find him hilarious but was saddened by his “jokes” about Japan. In no way were they funny and were very offensive (obviously). But like some of you said, Glen Beck and that WNBA broad’s comments are just as bad. 50 Cents tweets were in horrible taste as well.

  21. hatsumomo says:

    I never knew Gilbert Gottfried did the voice work for them. When I read he got fired from teh company I honestly sat there thinking ‘what did he do there? Business investment or something?’. It just didnt click at first someone would hire him to represent his corporation knowing Gilbert’s style of humor. He’s always made tasteless jokes like those, as far as I can remember. Im just surprised it took this long for someone to get offended by it in this day and age where everyone is offended by something or the other.

  22. Cleo says:

    He actually recycled a Japanese joke about Asian girls dating White guys: why are they like a yellow cab? Because another one comes around in x minutes.

    We crossed paths on an NYU street decades ago and I was really startled by how small his eyes are in real life like they didn’t belong to him or his face.

  23. Just Me says:

    His voice in general, and in the Aflac commercials specifically, has always been incredibly annoying to me.

    His remarks were insensitive and did not surprise me in the least. They match his squinty eyes, grating voice, and smug demeanor.

  24. 6 says:

    Even if you took the insensitivity out of it, those are awful. I have always failed to see his humor. Being that they are so terribly insensitive, he is a jerk. Maybe he will think about “being funny” in the future.

  25. lu says:

    Such hateful stupid people.

    On good news about japan, they found a 4 month old baby alive under wood and slake. her parent are so happy they found her.

  26. Aqua says:

    Maybe,the people who are making the thoughtless,insensitive,tasteless jokes/comments should go to Japan and see how well their jokes would fly.

    BTW their are some comics who say that that’s what comics do.they make jokes but what ever happened to decorum.Especially during times of disaster.

    People need to have empathy,sensitivity,compassion.Japan needs help more than they need a joke.

  27. Aqua says:

    Also wanted to add I’m so sick and tired of celebrities saying whatever the hell they want and think and apologizing for it later.Sometimes saying a half ass sorry just isn’t enough.

  28. Faye says:

    He makes my skin crawl. He’s not funny and has the most annoying voice. Annoying isn’t strong enough a word so I’ll say I’d rather listen to an orchestra of dentist drills.

  29. MARKYMARK says:

    I’m a New Orleanian & the “KATRINA” jokes & barbs still hurt now, so I can’t see how in the hell he couldn’t stop for a moment to think about how insensitive (& just plain shitty) his tweets are. People are still dying and the Radiaion crisis has to be more than frightening to the Japanese…

  30. original kate says:

    people actually follow gilbert gottfried on twitter? why?

  31. Sumodo1 says:

    Maaaaaannnny years ago, Gilbert Gottfried helped me raise a lot of money for a charitable organization. There’s the “stage” Gilbert and the “off-stage” Gilbert. I like both just fine.

  32. Magsy says:

    Too late. Go get another gig you annoying, unfunny little ugly man.

  33. hairball says:

    @jag: Thanks for the info, I just e-mailed them.

  34. Gabriela says:

    It wasn’t even funny eh

  35. Isa says:

    This is disgusting. I have been worrying all week that my brother was going to get sent over there. He was supposed to be over there when this happened and was luckily on leave. Now he has been re-assigned somewhere else.

    Ugh, this guy just sickens me. My thoughts and prayers are with the people in Japan.

  36. JQ says:

    I am an American living in China. The news over here does not sugarcoat the entire quake/tsunami/nuclear radiation situation at all. My friends in the states are stunned by the footage we have been seeing around the clock over here. It makes it easy for people to make such stupid, insensitive statements. I have always thought Gilbert Gottfried was funny until now. It was truly inappropriate joking about a horrific situation that may very well have taken over 10,000 people’s lives and it’s still not over yet. Fifty Cent and that stupid WNBA player should also be ashamed of themselves. We are all bigger and better than this though. And if we pull together and do the right thing by donating (money, time or items) we can help people who truly need our support, not our jokes, right now.

  37. harfang says:

    I knew that guy had jumped the shark like 20 years ago — I remember the last time he was genuinely funny, and I was not yet an adult. (I developed my nasty addiction to stand-up comedy on cable when I was maybe 10.) But I hope this destroys him for good.

  38. hairball says:

    @JQ: Thanks for that perspective. I donated money but feel powerless to do anything else. I wonder why food/water/tents/something can’t be dropped to the homeless. I know there are shelters set up, but I read stories of so many cold and hungry with no power etc. I feel guilty sitting here in my luxury while they suffer. I wonder if more can be done? Is the U.S. doing anything to help…?

  39. EmDee says:

    Oh my. Who the hell is this guy anyway? He’s obviously trying to use this tragedy to draw attention to himself. Disgusting.

    Just to preface; this is not slight to this site at all… but I get the feeling that this horror of a tragedy is being downplayed somehow by the news media. Not deliberately but, I don’t know. The whole focus is on the nuclear reactors which is, of course, a concern but it’s like it hasn’t been fully acknowledged that there has been a colossal loss of life and property and that the whole of Japan is in crisis…maybe it’s just the news that I’m watching. Hmmm, I’ll stop my blabbering now.

  40. Hakura says:

    @Mandy“I believe that there is NOTHING that can’t be joked about. And I mean that. That said, these particular jokes just weren’t funny.”

    I do respect that opinion… & in most cases, I agree that a lot of people take things too seriously, or are overly concerned with everything being PC. I’m pretty open minded with humor (as my addiction to Family Guy will attest), but even I have to draw the line somewhere.

    In much the same way as there is never an appropriate way to joke about the Holocaust… It’s not appropriate to joke about this sort of tragedy that’s destroyed people’s lives & families, Just like what happened with Hurricane Katrina or 9/11. There will never be a classy way to make light of such disasters, & attempting to do so is completely disrespectful to the people & the families affected by it.

    @Hairball – I agree. I too gave what I could as a donation, but it just doesn’t feel like enough, sitting in my comfortable room with my cable tv. Has the US done anything officially to help, at this point? I’ve only really heard about celebrities doing various things to get donations.