You literally don’t forget a voice like comedian Gilbert Gottfried’s.
My first exposure to his high-pitched, raspy yell (which, to my surprise, was not his real voice) was the sleazy weekend movie show “USA Up All Night.” He would introduce slightly censored versions of horror movies that would range from “The Exorcist” to “Chopping Mall.”
In an era of prop and gimmick comics, Gottfried stood out because of that memorable voice and became a legend because of his remarkable wit. He died on April 12.
While he was a fairly dirty comic, with his most well-known stage bit being his version of the explicit “The Aristocrats” joke, Gottfried endeared himself to families for generations with his turn as the sarcastic parrot Iago in Disney’s “Aladdin.”
Growing up as a kid in the ’90s, following “Aladdin,” I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t popping up in a show or movie I was watching. It could be the made-for-TV movie “Saved By The Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas,” the kid horror show “Are You Afraid of the Dark?,” talk shows like “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” rides at Disney World like the Tower of Terror or commercials for AFLAC (from which he was famously fired) and Subway.
For several generations, Gottfried and his often-imitated voice were inescapable. But beyond his movie and TV appearances, he remained sharp and funny for decades in his multiple standup specials and podcast “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast.”
If you need a great example, watch the clip of him on “Hollywood Squares” where he’s the final square who would give either contestant the board and after they doubt his intellect, he trolls both of them, yelling “You fools!” after they miss the question. To this day, it’s something I still say.
Gottfried’s passing is shocking because it comes in a series of deaths of comedians from his generation, including Bob Saget, Louis Anderson and Norm Macdonald. All legends in their own time, they proved in their later years to be giving of their time and talent to rising stars and seemingly had more gas in the tank.
I said it about all of them and I’ll say it again for Gottfried: At 67 years old, it feels like he’s gone too soon. But we’re lucky to have the wealth of material that he gave us over the decades to take in.