Gilbert Gottfried Fired From Aflac After Japan Tweets

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried is the latest idiot celebrity to damage their career on Twitter.

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried is the latest idiot celebrity to damage their career on Twitter.

Lisa de Moraes, WaPo TV Column (“Tasteless Tweets cost Gottfried Aflac duck gig“)

You’ve heard the last of comic Gilbert Gottfried voicing the Aflac duck in the insurance company’s TV ads. The insurance company has sacked Gottfried after he spent the weekend tweeting a slew of gags about Friday’s magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that, as of this writing, had claimed 2,414 lives and counting. In the Miyagi prefecture along, the police chief has estimated the local death toll could rise to 10,000.

“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,” the company’s chief marketing officer said in a statement. “Aflac Japan – and by extension, Japan itself – is part of the Aflac family, and there is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times.”


Among other comments, Gottfried had Tweeted: “Japan is really advanced. They don’t go to the beach. The beach comes to them.” He also Tweeted: “I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, ‘There’ll be another one floating by any minute now’.”


I get that dark humor is how some people cope with tragedy. But Gottfried is not only a public figure but one who’s been around awhile. He’s 56 years old and got his big break as a regular on “Saturday Night Live” 31 years ago!

On the bright side, I’m sure Kenneth Cole will snap him right up.

FILED UNDER: Humor, Policing, Popular Culture, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Radley Balko says:

    I largely agree that the jokes are offensive, and not very funny. But come on. How do you hire Gilbert Gottfried as your spokesman, then fire him for telling offensive jokes? Telling offensive jokes is what he does. He’s probably most well known for telling one of the most offensive versions of the most offensive joke ever told. It would be like hiring Mark Russell, then firing him because he isn’t funny.

  2. alkali says:

    It is sort of amazing that Aflac didn’t anticipate this. Gottfried is one of the darkest comedians working, and notoriously did a routine about 9/11 at a Friar’s Club roast in late 2001. He recently joked about the overdose death of his friend the comedian Greg Giraldo literally a couple of days after it happened.

    My own view is that while this material isn’t to everyone’s taste, Gottfried is actually very careful about the way he does this kind of material and is clearly trying to avoid anything that would be cruel rather than absurd.

  3. Franklin says:

    Pretty much agree with everything above. The biggest thing to me, though, is: who cares? Is a grieving widow in Japan even more upset because some comedian made a joke?

    You can both feel bad for people in Japan (and I know a handful) and still laugh at ridiculous tsunami jokes.

  4. James Joyner says:

    @Radley: You’ve got a point. I never found Gottfried particularly funny. Presumably, Aflac hired him for his distinctive voice, not his joke writing.

  5. alkali says:

    I never found Gottfried particularly funny.

    He is not everyone’s taste, but he is one of those standups who is far stronger live than on TV. Other standups love him.

  6. Tony says:

    I’m in two minds about this. On the one hand, yes, it’s tasteless. I don’t know anybody in Japan who has lost their lives, but I do know people whose livelihoods are quite possibly out the window. It’s not a funny time.

    But it’s obvious they were jokes and all in all I can’t get that worked up about it. I don’t see anything from this to believe that Gottfried harbours any animus towards innocent Japanese people whose lives have been wrecked. For me, by some margin the worst “constribution” (and one that has been flagged up in passing elsewhere without getting “viral” attention) since the onset of the disaster has been from Family Guy writer Alec Sulkin, who made a comment about Pearl Harbor casualty figures that not only wasn’t funny, it wasn’t even obvious that it was a joke in the first place.