Gottfried varies in interview, life, comedy

By Mare Runge

DeKalb, get ready for blatant stupidity that varies. Whatever that is … it’s what comedian Gilbert Gottfried, well-known for his penchant to ad-lib at the MTV Music Video Awards, does best. Or so he said, in a telephone interview Wednesday from his hotel room in Universal City, Calif.:

Are you a college graduate?

“No, I barely made it through elementary school. Fingerpainting was the only subject I ever passed.”

That voice you do, it’s not your normal one. Isn’t that strenuous?


Then why do you do it?

“You got me. I guess I’m into self-destruction. I have no idea how the voice came about. There was no set pattern. One day you just wake up and you’re doing something you’ve been doing for years. You never know where it started. My throat’s in worse shape than Linda Lovelace’s.”

Then why do you do it?

“Ya got me. But when you do, it varies.”

Where did you grow up?

“I haven’t grown up yet. The place where I tried to grow up was Brooklyn.”

So when you go home for the holidays and stuff, it’s Brooklyn?

“No. Everyone’s moved to other states and changed their names. I’m not kidding.”

Are colleges a regular part of your tour, or do you play a different type of circuit?

“I play all different things, clubs and colleges. I did a USA ‘Up All Night’ show. Right now I’m working on a Night Court episode. It varies.”

What do you like or dislike about playing college campuses? Go ahead, rip on us.

(He laughs.) “I don’t know, it varies. These are totally meaningless answers. Most of the time it’s been good. The only bad part is when kids come up to me after the show and say, ‘We’re havin’ a party at the frat house—wanna join us?‘”

What’s the hardest part of your job?

“Doing interviews.”

Having to put up with stupid college kids like me calling you at your hotel room?

(He laughs.) “One thing is doing a show the night before, then having to wake up at 5 a.m. to do a radio show, crawling in there and then having them say, ‘Now be funny.’ When you think about it, longshoremen have more to b—- about than I do. There are people out there who have real jobs.”

What other jobs did you have before your career as a comedian took off?

“Well, I was a brain surgeon for a while, but I had this habit of dropping things.”

No, really, what other kinds of jobs did you have?

“Oh, it varied. Lots of menial jobs.”

Like . . .?

“It varies.”

Okay, okay. How did you get started in the entertainment industry, as a comedian?

“Well, it varied.”

Everything “varies,” doesn’t it?

“You’re catching on.”

No, really.

“I was 16, and I started going on stage at non-paying night clubs. This was before the comedy boom started. They were called ‘Hootenanny nights.’ I just did comedy.”

Do you remember your first joke?

“No. I try to forget the jokes I have now.”

What would you be now if you weren’t a comedian?

“There’s a lot of people who don’t think I’m a comedian, so you should probably ask them.”

Okay, but seriously. What would you do, or like to do, if you couldn’t be a comedian?

“It varies.”

What’s your fantasy?

“Usually, the kind of fantasies I have are late at night and would sicken Jeffrey Dahmer. It varies.”

What inspired you to become a comedian? Anything?

“Nothing. Blatant stupidity on my part.”

What do you mean, blatant stupidity? Could you expand on that?

(Condescendingly) “Very stupid, moronic, idiotic . . .”

Tell me an anecdote or something unusual that happened to you on one of your college visits, like being invited to a frat party.

“I lead an amazingly uninteresting life. People say, ‘What did you do last night?’ and I say ‘Nothing,’ and they say, ‘Are you gonna tell us you went back to your hotel room and watched TV?’ and I say, ‘Yes.’ It’s not exactly like Warren Beatty and I have a lot of stories to exchange.”

What should we expect Saturday?

“Blatant stupidity. Expect people to be flinging things at me and screaming for my blood.”

But what can we expect from you?

“Everything you’ve seen before, only worse.”

Why worse?

“Because I’m doing it.”

What do you see yourself doing five to ten years from now?

“Probably having open-heart surgery. It’s frightening to think about it.”

Have you ever been to DeKalb?


What are you expecting?


Are you married or anything?


Oh, that one doesn’t vary.