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Spring comic overhauls childhood memories

By Rob Ferries
On February 19, 2013

"There wasn't a weather incident in Japan today was there?" Gilbert Gottfried asked after he finished pacing across the stage and lapping up the applause from his grand entrance. The reference to his past fallout with Afflack put him off to a gut-busting start with the Brockport audience. 

From there on, there was rarely a lull amongst the crowd as Gottfried packed his raunchy set with content stretching from napkin humor to the history of Christianity. 

It has been more than two decades since Gottfried took on the role of Iago in the animated Disney feature Aladdin (1992). However, many of the students on the Brockport campus packed into the ballroom with fond memories of the devious little parrot and the iconic gravelly voice that brought him to life. 

To a number of folks in the crowd, this man was a living cartoon linking to warm childhood memories of the classic `90s Disney animation. Those who walked into the show expecting to rekindle these warm memories were in for a rude and foul-mouthed awakening. It turns out the Iago everyone remembers is an obnoxious little man who kills it with his 'guy walks into a bar'-esque stories about teenage masturbation.

His voice acting role in Aladdin is what helped make Gottfried a household name across the country, but his work as a stand-up comedian stretches back to his years as a teenager growing up in New York City. Gottfried joked he got into showbusiness because he was, "too stupid for anything else." 

In a post-show interview he  reminisced of a moment when he was growing up and realized  something about the way people looked and felt about entertainers. 

"If you were successful in showbusiness, but totally stupid, that was respected," Gottfried said. "If you heard Johnny Depp couldn't tie his shoelaces, you might think, 'Wow, what an artist.' But a grocer who can't tie his laces is an idiot." 

With more than 30 years to improve his craft on stage, he was able to keep the crowd rolling with laughter. It may be too soon to tell, but experiencing Gottfried might have just rewritten the past 20 years of Disney history for those in attendance that night.  

Before seeing the show one might have doubts about the quality of performance that would be delivered to our campus audience. Gottfried is known for his raunchy humor. Any YouTube video will attest to his knack for going all-out with graphic details. His ability to do so is what makes him a keeper of the legendary comedian's bit titled "The Aristocrats." 

"The Aristocrats" is an improvised story of a family in showbiz that performs multiple obscene acts on each other in front of a curious talent agent. The single joke has the potential to last anywhere from five minutes to an hour. 

This age-old joke has become almost a competition amongst major comics as each one looks to outcraft the other by amping up the story with content more extreme than before. Gottfried, amongst others, is known for telling the story with the most vigor and vile details.

 However, this was not the case. Through and through Gottfried refused to pull any punches as some might have expected him to. He preserved his act with all its rivetingly rotten jokes in all of their glory. 

Building his performance to a crescendo where he reinforces his 'shot in the mouth' joke with bold detail. 

In what seemed to be an off -kilter decision to bring in such a comic, you can't deny the resulting laughter that filled the Union Ballroom that night. 

Besides stand-up comedy and voicing Iago, Gottfried has also appeared in several TV shows like Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and appears somewhat regularly in Comedy Central's celebrity roasts. He has also voiced Iago in the popular video game series Kingdom Hearts.

The students of Brockport thoroughly enjoyed watching Gottfried perform for us and welcomed him into our town with open arms.

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