Gilbert Gottfried apologizes for Japan tragedy tweets, Joan Rivers defends

Image Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

After being fired as the quacking spokesperson for Aflec (and doubtless receiving a ton of outraged messages), comedian Gilbert Gottfried apologized Tuesday for his offensive tweets mocking victims of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Returning to Twitter, Gottfried wrote two hours ago: “I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my attempt at humor regarding the tragedy in Japan. I meant no disrespect, and my thoughts are with the victims and their families.”

Joan Rivers, meanwhile, offered her support for the jokes via Twitter: “Oh come on people—this is just outrageous! Gilbert Gottfried was FIRED from Aflac for making jokes about the tsunami in Japan.” And then added: :That’s what comedians do!!! We react to tragedy by making jokes to help people in tough times feel better through laughter.”

Gottfried had penned jokes such as “Japan is real advanced. They don’t go to the beach. The beach comes to them.”

Read more:
Why publicists aren’t worried about stars embarrassing themselves on Twitter
Gilbert Gottfried canned as Aflac Duck after insensitive Japanese earthquake tweets

Comments (170 total) Add your comment
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  • Ed

    Joan, that’s what “we” do? I haven’t heard Joan Rivers tell a good joke in twenty years.

    • Sandy

      Ed, I don’t think I ever have.

      • Rory

        Or he’s nothing.. You need to listen to

      • Ruderal

        G.O.O.D Gerent Occult’s Observations of Demon-o-cracy. Ok now you tell good joke ha ha!. sure they all say they never told good jokes! yeah right!

      • ew-bot

        For what it’s worth, I wasn’t sure what to make of Joan Rivers until I saw “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” last year. The woman is freakin hilarious! I don’t know what else Gilbert Gottfried might have said or written, but the joke above is pretty tame stuff. It’s not really the joke that folks are taking issue with, it’s the timing. Sooner or later a comedian was going to go there and people would laugh, sometimes it’s just a week or two too soon for the majority.

    • Ro

      twenty years? try ever.

      • Larry

        You will never find someone that can pull off that duck anymore.. Aflac will lose money.

      • otis

        your all full of it! was a joke, get over it… and joan is gr8.

      • Aly

        3/4ths of their profit comes from Japan. They’d lose more money if they kept him. And who even knew he was the voice until this controversy?

        I didn’t know it was him, and his voice is also pretty easy to imitate.

    • deedee

      Joan is absolutely right! Gilbert is Gilbert; that’s what he does

      • DaJuice

        Guess he’ll be re-thinking what he does not that he lost his cushy Aflac gig.

      • Mike

        @DaJuice: Seriously. How much jack did Gottfried bank just for quacking? He’ll miss that gig for sure.

      • DFSF

        Considering Rivers built her entire career on “Liz Taylor is so fat” jokes, her support for Gottfried’s type of casual cruelty can’t be surprising.

      • derek

        She also threw a pen in the eye of a saleslady she had a disagreement with. Joan Rivers is a vile creature.

      • WB

        How did Aflec hire someone who has been known for offensive comedy for…ever? Did they not see The Aristocrats?

      • Aly

        And what Aflac does is sell insurance. In Japan (not just here.)

    • Mephysto

      I would agree with her, however I would also have to call her a hypocrite. This is the same woman who banned comedians from telling jokes about her daughter during her comedy central roast. So hey Joan, making jokes about a tragedy in Japan which resulted in the death of thousands is ok, but making jokes about your functional retarded daughter is not?

      • Gupta


      • Rory

        Joan is dumb as a bag of rocks. Seriously. Why they gave her a show is beyond explanation.

      • yepyep

        Rory get your out that bag, you are giving this plastic woman way to much credit, she doesnt have a brain anymore they just put a plastic one in there so doctors can look at something on xrays.

      • Larry

        barf bag

      • Tanza

        Hypocrisy is her stock in trade. After years of mocking Yoko Ono for being a widow, and Karen Carpenter for dying, and dismissing her critics, she had a righteous meltdown that someone wrote a satirical piece about her own widowhood. She dishes it out but absolutely refuses to take it.

    • Tom

      Tasteless, but understandable at the same time.

    • Tom

      You gotta see the girl at UCLA making fun of Asian students on youtube.. go watch now..

    • Samuel

      You need to listen to

      • Rory

        I just downloaded it for my iPod for my workout session tomorrow.. That’s catchy!

    • Ang

      Why am I not surprised in the least that Rivers thinks the devastation and death in the 1000s is funny. Yes, humor can get you through a situation if you’re IN THAT SITUATION. But she’s not. She’s just a outsider looking in and commenting with all her usual class and charity. She’s such a douche-bag.

    • Larry

      Gottfried.. Winning!

    • jr

      ed, hahahahahahahahaha!! joan is an idiot! what GG said wasn’t funny, it’s was in poor taste. and frankly, her opinion matters so little. she’s an idiot too.

    • Carla

      I disagree with Joan, who I love. Gottfried’s jokes were not funny, and as he proved time and again on the Comedy Central roasts, he has no sense of timing. It is not time to make jokes when hundreds of thousands are lost to their families and being exposed to radiation.

  • Spencer

    Hey Joan! Wasn’t it hilarious when your husband killed himself!

    • Bubba Smith

      Hey Spencer, Joan did joke about her husband when he died.
      Quote – JOAN RIVERS found an unusual way to recover from the death of her husband EDGAR ROSENBERG – she started cracking jokes about it. Rivers, whose partner committed suicide in 1987, insists she and her daughter MELISSA were devastated by the tragedy. But she was convinced black humour could heal their pain, although she admits her quip could have backfired. She says, “After my husband, Edgar, committed suicide it was a very hard time for us. I took Melissa to dinner after the shivah (Jewish time of mourning) and she was such a wreck I couldn’t reach her. “I looked at the prices on the menu and I said, ‘Melissa, if Daddy was alive he’d kill himself all over again.’ She laughed.”

      • Tony

        Not offensive, but not particularly funny either.

      • Ruderal

        Yeah and george burns wouldn’t be joking when he would say bill japan for our help and chinas help. were pimping chinas help off from learned behavior!. pimped indignation, Ronald Reagan punchline!

      • Ruderal

        The Killer got to tony, bubba’s explanation was even funny considering that kill is an acronym to Kinetic Intelligence in Linguistics Logistics mean’s he would manipulate those who wrote the menu to the way he wanted it. but that never works they just start playing the iniquity game immediately after you tell them how to write it.

      • myprettypony

        not the same. she was poking fun of her own tragedy. not really funny when a white guy makes fun of an asian country’s tragedy.

      • Rory

        Who watches Joan Rivers? Meh

      • Lois

        Joan said it helped her to make jokes about her tragedy.
        That’s very different than a rich guy in his nice house tweeting jokes mocking the suffering of strangers thousands of miles away.

    • Paul

      She makes jokes about that dummy.

      • Spencer

        Hey dummy – telling a joke privately to your daughter is not really the same as what GG did, now is it?

    • Cranial Industries

      Thats funny right there, I don’t care who ya’ are!

    • Pamela

      OK. Everybody stop! Somethings are not Funny. Suicide, and what has happened in Japan are good examples. Some things we don’t need comic relieve. It is ok to be sad, to hurt. Comics stop! Don’t try to help…it isn’t helping.

      • inconsonance

        You are not the arbiter of that which is or is not funny, and it would be best if you’d stop attempting to assume that role. What you are is someone who apparently gets psychologically wounded over even the most minute perceived offense, and tries to push their personal opinion onto others as if it were the only position to take. Lady, you’re not that special, and shame on whomever is responsible for letting you believe that you are.

      • Ruderal

        you’re uh cacodoxy of zygnomic Paromology and your retardation is more then you can handle.

      • Ruderal

        I really hope for your sake that you are not serious. this blog is an invite to black humor and it’s written all over it! Jesus lady grow up!

    • Pam J

      75% of AFLAC customers are from Japan. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

    • Ruderal

      She made one good joke about the road sign’s telling you how far away you are from a certain town but it don’t tell you when your getting close or when you’re there it just lets you keep on going and going and that about says it. don’t it?

  • Bud

    Gottfried’s jokes are themselves a joke. Has he seen any images? Would he joke about such a tragedy happening to his fellow countrymen?
    I doubt it.

    • Mike

      He did. He made jokes the day after 9/11. AFLAC knew what they were getting when they hired him.

      • Cris

        EXACTLY! Three weeks after 9/11 at a Comedy Central Roast he made the joke (that was cut out of the telecast): “I have to leave now. I have to catch a flight to L.A. and there’s a stopover at the Empire State Building.” This is his schtick. He loves to shock and offend. Aflac knew that when they hired him.

      • Ruderal

        He probably had aflac for hurt feelings incase he was ever wrongfully terminated.

      • Andie

        I tend to agree. With Gottfried’s track record it seems reasonably foreseeable that Aflac could have a public relations disaster on their hands at any moment. And now 75% of their business is in Japan and they’ve got this idiot tweeting. Yikes.

      • Jackson

        I’m neither defending nor crucifying Gilbert, but that 9/11 joke fell flat at the Roast – it was followed by boos and awkward. You’d think Gottfried would have been smart enough to learn from that and to know his audience in the future. Sometimes there’s a difference between pushing the limits and being an entertainer.

      • Lois

        Cris, they cut Gilbert’s 9/11 jokes out of the telecast of the roast because people booed him.

      • Carla

        And conversely, for 11 years Gilbert knew his job was to keep his not-funny act separate from his job with Aflac, which was basically one word. The handful of people in this country who are privileged to return to work have learned rule one: KNOW YOUR EMPLOYER. Gilbert could have bothered to know that 75% of Aflac’s income is from Japan. More to the point, Since when does being a comedian trump being a considerate human being?

      • Remy

        Also, Lois, you can see his 9/11 bit on the film “The Aristocrats”.

    • Jeffrey

      Absolutely he would. As would many, many. ‘Dark’ humour is a long standing cure for the blues, and EVERYone needs to lighten up. Humour, like Radiation, needs time, shielding and distance…..

      • Ruderal

        And you’re an example in condensed messaging.

    • scott

      Yes. He would and he has. He made jokes about 9/11 not too long after it happened in a famous Roast.

    • Ruderal

      He would definitely think he was thinking of jokes about it. but probably wouldn’t allow his smigma to vocalize it cause he would be too close to the victims.

    • Buddy

      He has. 9/11 joke, right after 9/11 happened at some roast. They even made a movie about it. Told another joke right after that one. It saved the tone of the evening and re-sparked his career – a blessing in disguise that never revealed itself. Like T.I. on Punk’d.

      • Lois

        Gilbert’s 9/11 joke at the Hugh Heffner roast was booed by the audience. People yelled “too soon” as him, along with the booing. It was cut out of the tv broadcast of the roast because the audience’s negative reaction. It didn’t “saved the tone of the evening and re-sparked his career.” Comedy Central did Gilbert a favor by cutting out his 9/11 jokes, because it would have made the backlash against him much larger.
        The film you are talking about is “The Aristocrats”. It isn’t about Gilbert’s 9/11 joke. After the 9/11 joke bombed, Gilbert told a version of the classic joke called “The Aristocrats.” Various versions of that joke have been told for decades by comedians. The movie is about THAT JOKE, not Gilbert’s 9/11 joke.

  • alamodefender

    gottfried,go to iran.

    • Ruderal

      You might have something there. the prodigy provocativeness game just got more conservative.

  • Sarah

    The “jokes” aren’t even funny.

    • Ruderal

      What joke?

    • inconsonance

      That is just your opinion.

    • Stevex

      What does he mean by saying “I meant no disrespect”? That’s his whole freakin’ act!

      • Ruderal

        It means he wasn’t disrespecting the dis.

  • Redneck

    Ed, Spencer & Bud, Does the sand in your respective vagina’s hurt as bad as the radioactive sand from Japan?

  • Geo Mac

    Tasteless humor is still humor and that is how many people cope with tragedy. Chin up Gilbert and when I die I hope you show up at the funeral to liven things up a bit. As far as the firing from Aflak, I would say they over reacted but I also don’t know much about Japanese culture. It may be more staunch over there and be more insulted than the average American. Is No Excuses jeans still around? You should see if they need a new spokesman. Just sayin’.

  • Albert Couillard

    Gottfired has long been on my personal list of “celebrities” that I wish would just fade away. Hopefully, now he will.

  • Jaime

    Thousands of people are dead or dying and your jokes are going to make them feel better? That’s like making jokes about the Holocaust.

    • cambion

      He’s done that too. And he’s Jewish.

    • Ruderal

      Holocaust Acronym to….. Hierarchy Occult’s of Linguistics Operating Cacodoxy Acquisitions Underwritten by Syndicated Tyranist’s in malice nomologists in perduellion zygnomically paromology.

    • Larry

      Unless it is some rich white goy lady’s fat butt, it’s off limits, right? You guys are all a bunch of over sensitive crybabies sometimes.. Get over it.

  • Greg

    One loud mouth jew sticking up for another. One has-been and one wannabe.

  • Ruderal

    Fire who ever fired gottfired! immediately!!!!!!!!

    • Deke

      They should fire the person who hired Gottfried in the first place — not because he made these jokes (they were actually pretty tame), but because he’s never had a ounce of talent. Then again, quacking into a microphone doesn’t exactly require extraordinary skill.

      • Lois

        Have you read all of his jokes about Japan? There were quite a few, and some were far worse than the ones quoted in the press.

      • Deke

        No, I didn’t know there were more. I just read the 2 quoted in the article, the first of which I didn’t think was particularly bad. I’ll take your word for it. I’m more offended by people like Alec Sulkin and Glen Beck, who have implied that the Japanese deserved this. Those 2 jerks can rot in hell.

  • bippy

    “That’s what comedians do!!! We react to tragedy by making jokes to help people in tough times feel better through laughter.”

    But um, how were his jokes helping people in Japan?

    • Tess Tickles

      His jokes helped me by making my laugh while I recreated a tsunami in my bathtub. Know I need some uranium for my nuclear toaster power plant. His jokes will help if that melts down

      • Tess TickIes

        And yes, I know I’m less than funny but I’m really hoping to make some friends on here so please bear with me.

      • Tess Tickles

        I really am a terrible person.

  • macguff

    Oh, dear. Wherever will Gottfried find another job where his god-awful voice is actually useful and you don’t have to look at him? As for Joan Rivers’ comment: yes, making people laugh in the wake of tragedy can be a good thing. But that’s quite different from making people laugh AT the tragedy. They say comedy is tragedy plus time. There’s been no time, here. It’s still happening! But I wouldn’t look to Rivers or Gottfried to know much about comedy.

    • Lois

      Excellent points!

  • Jodi

    I get that a lot of people use humor to lighten up horrible situations, but this seems more like a case of a man not having a filter in place. You know, the one that goes between the brain and the mouth.

  • Gigi

    Being a comedian does not give you a free pass to be an insensitive jerk.
    Some jokes should not ne tolerated like racism, and an incident where thousands of people are dead, and may not recover for years. Hope he gets blacklisted.

    • Ruderal

      Huh! sounds alot like when they bombed us and killed tens of thousands of our relatives and then moved their psychos into the united states after the war to secretly screw us around. huh! dumb and dumber you need to move to iraq and get wise lady. blacklist yourself as you just did. and being a reporter don’t give you the right to conspire famacide to slander onto people who have the right to freedom of speech. blame the stupid reporter that don’t have enough respect to hush innocent humor. gilbert gottfried was wrongfully treminated.

      • Ruderal

        I’m sorry for being such a jerk with my above comment. I was drunk.

      • k

        Ah, yes, drinking and blogging – that might explain GG’s dumb tweets too.

    • Nona

      People make racist and sexist jokes all the time. Stereotypical humor is a mainstay. Jokes about slavery are told quite often. Famine. War. Despotism. Religion. When you can laugh do. It’s good for you. When you can’t don’t .

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