Hot Docs 2017: Gilbert
We all know Gilbert Gottfried as the foul-mouthed, controversial, small framed comedian who seems as though he's struggling to scream every word he ever says. But that's obviously just a stage persona (one that he is fully committed to.) What the documentary Gilbert attempts to do is give you a peek behind the curtain at the real man underneath the crude jokes. Turns out, Gilbert's a fairly normal guy.
We follow Gilbert through his daily routine on tour. He packs his suitcase haphazardly and takes the bus to whatever city he's performing in. He checks into his hotel making sure to grab whatever free goodies he can find (at one point we cut to his wife Dara at home and she opens up a container revealing a bevy of hotel soaps, shampoos, and various mini toiletries. We are assured it is one of many stored around the house.) He goes to the theatre, club, or bar where he's performing and does his act, which hasn't changed much over the years. He travels from city to city around four days a week before he heads home to his family only to repeat the process again.
At odds with his loud dirty persona is Gottfried's reserved, quiet personality. He's not a personal man, he doesn't really open up with anybody, not even his wife. Dara says "I love you" and Gilbert either doesn't respond or says something to the effect of "I don't know why." Every personal moment is quickly undercut with a cheap joke. This isn't just camera shyness either, even his private anniversary and valentine's cards to his wife end with a handwritten "Go fuck yourself!" That's not to say he doesn't care or isn't loving, but you won't be getting a straight answer from him. Due to this the documentary regularly cuts in with interviews with Gottfried's friends and contemporaries in order to provide more insight, comedians such as Jay Leno, Artie Lange, Anthony Jeselnik, Jim Gaffigan, Judy Gold, Dave Attell, and Bob Saget. Gottfried is known as a comedian's comedian, and all of the well known faces shower him with adoration.
The film eventually touches on Gottfried's most notorious controversy. Shortly after a tsunami tore through Japan in 2011, killing thousands and causing billions in damages, Gottfried made a series of off-color jokes referencing the event on Twitter and was swiftly fired from his job as the voice of the Aflac duck, a massively popular mascot and a dream job for Gottfried. It's revealed just how awful he felt afterwards (his wife says that he cried, unheard of for him.) Not necessarily for making the jokes, but for how they made people feel bad and blew up in his face.