AFLAC fires Gilbert Gottfried over controversial Japan jokes

By | March 14, 2011 at 6:20 pm | 24 comments | News | Tags: , , , , ,

Over the weekend, Gilbert Gottfried tweeted several jokes centered around the devastation in Japan. This morning, the comedian found himself not only under fire for his seemingly insensitive tweets, but literally fired from his long-time gig as the voice of the AFLAC duck mascot, says the Hollywood Reporter.

AFLAC reps released this statement, “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 … Aflac will immediately set plans in motion to conduct a nationwide casting call to find a new voice of the iconic Aflac Duck.”

The tweets in question have since been deleted from Gottfried’s account but here are some I was able to drudge up.

  • I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, “they’ll be another one floating by any minute now.”
  • I was talking to my Japanese real estate agent. I said “Is there a school in this area?” She said “Not now but just wait.”
  • Japan called me. They said “those jokes may be a hit in the US, but over here, they’re all sinking.”

When I first started following Gilbert Gottfried on Twitter, I was certain that it wouldn’t be for long. Tweets were few and far between and mostly jibberish. One that I remember, looked as though the comedian had mashed his fingers across the keypad and hit “enter.” After a while, I rarely stopped to read updates from the man at all but slowly, he began to find his groove (or just figured out how twitter worked) and began interacting with fans and tweeting jokes.

This isn’t the first time Gottfried has upset others with poorly timed Twitter jokes.  Just hours after the passing of comedian Greg Giraldo, Gottfried landed himself on for tweeting, “If Greg Giraldo is cremated. . . will that be The Greg Giraldo Roast?” He later told TMZ that he wasn’t concerned about Giraldo calling and complaining.

Gottfried has yet to comment on any of the current developments, but should he? Isn’t he “just doing his job” or has Gottfried crossed the line? And, he made a special guest appearance at Comedy Central’s Roast of Donald Trump, which airs tomorrow. Will producers keep him in?

About the Author

Chase Roper

Chase Roper is the Internet’s only comedy writing, podcasting, stay at home dad (maybe). His comedic sensibility has been described as bitingly sarcastic. He’s not sure if he agrees with that but is pretty sure that “bitingly” isn’t a real word. You can check out his show, The Stay at Home Dadcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

  • Anthony Angrywolf

    Why must they fire him all because he made some Japanese jokes?! I want him back as the Aflac Duck! Aflac, you’d better have Gilbert apologize or somethin’, give him a chance or somethin’ and have him come back as the duck, not Daniel McKeague!

    Like one user said one time, the Aflac Duck will never be the same again without Gilbert!

    Please have Gilbert come back as the duck! Please! Thank you!

    Yours Truly,Anthony Angrywolf

  • May Phuc Yu

    To whom it may concern,

    First of all, big applause to the lightening speed of response jokes to the current catastrophic disaster in Japan with high respect to the freedom of speech that most countries can not afford. The translation of the jokes have still not yet completed so unfortunately we can not laugh at the same timing as you all enjoyed those jokes.

    The reason, we are sending this letter is that we would like to organize a comedy event and would like to invite Mr Giltfired to cheer up those disaster affected people in Northern Japan. Our expected stage to be between Nuclear power plant No.1 and No.2 utilizing the vacant space. As we have no seats available in the area, we are going to utilize the thousands of dead bodies piled up in the school gymnasiums in the surrounding areas, as most of them are still no place to go and some of them are started to dried up to sit on. We shall provide old newspapers to place on the top.

    All the proceeding on our side shall go to feed the children who lost their parents and relatives and eating none to 1 meal a day with only T-shirt under the shivering weather in northern Japan.
    We appreciate if you can donate some of your profit from this show.

    Lastly, please note that we are not responsible for your post-show teeth and hair falls and acute sickness with skin cracks accompanied with breathing problems and cancerous symptoms from the radiation you may absorb during your stage.

    Just for your information, the crack of the power plant No.1 was due to the designing fault by the foreign power plant engineer who had no knowledge of our earth quake and tsunami prone situation.

    So far no raping nor riot are occurring and most likely wouldn’t occur in the area no matter how critical the situation remains.

    Actually the situation is getting worse as the country decided to turn down all the volunteer offers from foreign countries to save their face.

    We are still encountering frequent power cut and remaining earth quakes every single day, and lately small sized tornados are happening in the northern Tokyo areas.

    We sincerely hope to bring them smiles they lost and cheer up the spirit.

    We are still waiting for the government approval for the venue. We understand that we don’t have enough time as any of the power plants may explode while government is busy saving their face and putting away information to the public. Meanwhile we would love to bring some sort of joy and pleasure to those who need.

    Sincerely Yours

    May Phuc Yu
    Acting President
    Japan Comedy Society
    Tokyo, Japan

  • Sabrina

    I fully support gilbert gottfried, and his right to say what he said. Besides, its hilarious. Its not like he was chanting, surrounded by family while burning our flag, like the dumb ass countries we’re helping now did while the twin towers burned. Gottfried is REAL. And he has a new fan. :)

  • floozy

    Can’t his agent get him a decent writing group? Andy Dick can probably take Wednesday nights off.

  • AdamInAstoria

    My biggest issue with the matter is Aflac’s inconsistent approach in handling Gilbert.

    He has always been someone who likes to take controversial and uncensored approaches to subjects and has in the past made jokes about 9/11, Katrina, gays, minorities and other trigger points. They knew that when they hired him and they didn’t have an issue with it. When he appeared at the Hugh Hefner Roast and made 9/11 jokes in New York, weeks after the towers fell, they didn’t say anything about it. Its only now that it affects them financially (jokes about Asians, Aflac’s bread and butter) do they seem to have a problem. It wasn’t the off-color jokes that Gilbert made (because, as referenced, he does that often) but because it potentially made them look bad to the people who pay their salaries. about.

    I am not condoning the jokes or Gilbert making fun of these victims, but Aflac knew what they had gotten into and ignored it as long as it kept making them money.

  • Steve!

    He can change his name to Gilbert Gottfired

  • @Rawls

    I find this massive wave if criticism unwarranted and more offensive than any Chinamen floater jokes. AFLAC is killing Independant Gilbert, they knew whi they hired, sadly, he apologized and this will have a chilling effect on others working blue. #DefendingGilbert

  • Jerod

    this is the same guy who was doing flying planes into buildings jokes 3 weeks after 9/11. this is what gilbert DOES. i don’t see any problem with his jokes at all, even if they are mediocre at best.

  • Stephen Darr

    Let em eat Whale meat…

  • Mellissa

    Shut the Duck up Gilbert. You’re not funny.

    • Anthony Angrywolf

      Stop it! He IS funny! I like him! In fact, I think he is way much better as the Aflac Duck, way better than Daniel McKeague! When will they ever bring Gilbert back as the Aflac Duck?! Hopefully, they will!

  • John seriös privat skola

    Now even the lost beyond all hope Charlie Sheen is donating to Japan. I knew he had it in him. Thumbs up!

  • Juls

    “the only jokes that are offensive are the ones that aren’t funny” – chris wainhouse.

    how is a DUCK schilling insurance to people uhmmm vulnerable & needy enough to believe what a duck tells them, less offensive than gilbert’s lines?

  • Chris

    Totally agree with Anna Marie here. This is real life not some fucking comedy show! Wonder how Gottfried and YOU supporters would feel if one of your loved ones met a tragic and violent death and someone started making jokes about it! All of you who think it’s funny or lament for “poor gottfried” will get yours in the end. What goes around comes around. It’s called Karma.

  • Perspective83

    oh cmon AFLAC, a week from now most of comedy central will be laughing at this. A major human reaction to travesty is humor, whether you agree with it or not, the joke don’t stop just because a few PC heartbroken hankie stompers get upset.

    I bet there are japanese laughing at some of his cracks, even as they weep at the devastation. This kind of oversensitivity is one of the major things bringing this nation, and others, down.

    Gilbert’s a cynic, he always has been. AFLAC knew this when he was hired, they knew it last month, and they knew that he would respond cynically to this recent misfortune.

    Point is, nobody outside of attention seekers would’ve batted an eyelash if it was Chris Rock or Adam Sandler.

  • Absolutely Disgusted

    I do not support gilbert gotFried or ANY celebrity still willing to work with him. It took my family 2 daays to find our family members. Gilbert is deserving of drowning like another poster said. He makes a living making disgusting jokes that fail to make me, and I’m guessing most other people, laugh. The only thing funny about him is his disgusting little squinty face.

  • Dave

    Those jokes weren’t his strongest material, but I wholeheartedly endorse Gilbert’s willingness to jump out there and take a comic risk on the issue. Would that other comedians were so willing to push the envelope.

    That said, AFLAC was well within their rights to fire him for it. I don’t agree with the commenter’s suggestion that their dropping Gilbert is an act of “censorship.” Gilbert takes money from them, he made public comments that made them uncomfortable, they dropped him, period. Gilbert’s not “censored” — he’s still completely free to say what he wants. He’s just not free to collect an AFLAC paycheck for doing so. Fair enough.

  • Cindy M.

    AFLAC actually does a lot of business in Japan.Either Gottfried didn’t know that which is VERY hard to believe or as noted by Laura with a slightly different word choice he is more stupid than most. I am not generally in favor of censorship of spokesperson comments but AFLAC really had no choice

  • Chris

    My biggest problem with the jokes about Japan are that they aren’t funny… at all. THE WON’T FLOAT HERE LAWL BC OF ALL THE WATER!!!!!!!!!!!! just lame. Sounds like something a drunk asshole sitting alone at a bar would say to someone who wasn’t listening. At least the Greg Giraldo one was mildly well written . I still wouldn’t care that it was in poor taste, let him do his thing I guess, but I definitely would have stopped following him.

  • Pablo

    Gilbert is a courageous master comedian doing his job which is telling jokes. Real comedians should not concern themselves with what is or is not in good taste at the present time because tastes WILL change but the punchlines live forever!
    It’s AFLAC’s loss and Gilbert’s loss too because he’ll have to work at McDonalds now but then again he is probably used to it by now.

  • HonestRob

    This is just a convenient excuse.
    They have been trying to replace him for years and I have TWICE been in callbacks to be the new duck.

    Be interesting if it sticks.
    *Calling Agent*

  • Anna Marie

    Fuck you, Gottfried. People DIED and are still DYING over there, and you’re cracking jokes about it like it’s as important as Obama getting his nose broken? I hope you drown, you no good motherfucker. It will NEVER be okay to joke about something like this, and I hope you get what’s coming to you for it, you sick bastard. Maybe someone should tie weights to your legs and throw you in the middle of that disaster – at least then you wouldn’t have air enough to make any more heartless comments like those. Rot in hell, you heartless piece of shit.

    • Anthony Angrywolf

      Shut UP! I like Gilbert Gottfried! You probably do not like him at all for some reason!

  • Jacob

    While these tweets may be in “bad taste” or “poorly timed,” I think they are still funny. If it had been Stanhope or Norton who said these jokes, it wouldn’t be such a controversy because they aren’t iconic, unlike Gilbert. I think it would be in bad taste for CC to not air Gilbert’s bit on the Roast. Afterall, this is the same station that airs South Park, who has created much more offensive material on sensitive subjects than Gilbert.

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