Gonzo comic Gilbert Gottfried has been doing stand-up since he was 15 years old. A stint on SNL then led to a gig doing promos for a new channel called MTV. Next he appeared in Beverly Hills Cop II  and Problem Child . If his name is somehow not familiar, his booming, sandpaper voice will be. As Iago in Disney’s Aladdin , Gottfried redefined what voice acting could be, going on to play the horse on Family Guy and soundtracking your insurance nightmares as the voice of the Aflac duck.
Now 62, the foul-mouthed funny man is the subject of his own documentary, Gilbert, which trails “the comedian’s comedian” as he gets fêted by comic legends and peers like Arsenio Hall, Whoopi Goldberg, Dick Van Dyke and Patton Oswalt. When offstage, filmmaker Neil Berkeley captures Gottfried as a family man, pensive and heartfelt—it’s a side of the entertainer we rarely see.
How he navigates his life, with acerbic wit and OTT hilarity, gives him an ideal pedestal on which to megaphone advice to the curious who have written in with some very complex issues. Gottfried, ever the pragmatist, here gives some laudable advice to some of our readers’ saddest conundrums.
Is it okay to sometimes hate your pet? My cat can be such a little asshole, especially at 5 A.M. when he’s hungry and starts doing everything possible to wake me and my husband. Pawing our faces, knocking our phones off the nightstand, scratching the walls. I love him, of course, but when he wants attention or food he pushes all the wrong buttons. Especially at 5 A.M. I just want to sleep at 5 A.M. How do I come to terms with this cognitive dissonance?
GILBERT GOTTFRIED: Well, first of all, I’m quite angry at you [for] using the word “cognitive dissonance.” Are you trying to wave it in my face that I have very little education? And a low IQ to boot. I’m not sure how to react to the phrase “cognitive dissonance.” I’m thinking I should get offended by it. I might have to go right to Twitter and complain about this.
I’ve been dating this boy for four years now. We go to dinner with his parents about twice a month, and every time his mother gets super wasted and tells me the same depressing, dark, family stories that are just not dinner conversation, let alone something I want to be reminded of every time she has a few too many—which is often. I try to tell her she already told me these stories but she continues on anyway, repeating herself over and over again. I told my boyfriend and he said that that’s just what she does, but it’s starting to get to the point where I might explode if I hear them again. What should I do that won’t ruin my relationship and my relationship with his mother?
GOTTFRIED: First of all, it’s good news that his mother is an alcoholic. This means you can take advantage of her much easier. It would help, of course, if you were a lesbian taking advantage of her, but you never really stated. In fact, you never said if you were a man or a woman. So, unless I get that information, I can’t get a clear fantasy in my head.
I know you’re a notorious cheapskate. I believe we are kindred spirits because I refuse to tip more than 10 percent and I recycle all my cans and bottles for the little change I get back from it. When it comes to birthdays, I just find whatever is lying around the house and wrap it in newspaper. Friends are used to my behavior and joke about how tightly drawn my purse strings are, but my girlfriend’s friends always make backhanded remarks about my frugalness, almost to the point of bullying me, and it’s starting to make me feel ashamed. Do I give up my frugal life? Or how do I tell them to back off?!
GOTTFRIED: I have the same problem, of course. When it’s someone’s birthday, I’ll also grab what’s lying around the house, wrap it up and hand it them as a birthday gift. The only time I got in trouble for it, was when it was my grandfather lying around the house. He had passed away in his sleep, so I wrapped him up and handed him as a present. But, unfortunately, he was a large gentleman, so it cost me extra to get enough wrapping paper. Boy, was I angry!
I’ve started dating a woman nine years my junior. She is 21 and I am 30, and a lot of my friends have been acting weird about it. She’s sophisticated and she’s pretty and we vibe well, but it’s hard for me to bring her around my friends, who are all around my age. They make comments about her being a child and I would really like for everyone to just back off, but obviously don’t want to cut ties with some of my best friends over a girl. What can I do to shut this shit down?
GOTTFRIED: There is absolutely nothing wrong with going out with someone who is years younger than you. Just ask Michael Jackson and the former spokesman for Subway. Speaking of the spokesman, not only did he have fun, but he lost about 300 pounds. But, I think that may have been because he ordered the same vegetable sandwich every day for a few months. That would turn anyone off to eating. I hope this answer helps you shed some of the extra pounds. If it does, please send a photo of yourself holding your former oversized pants in front of you.
I matched with a guy on Tinder and we went out on a date. The whole time he talked about himself, made rude comments … Did I mention he picked Starbucks as the date spot?! After the date, I stalked him on Instagram, and saw so many red flags so I made every attempt to ghost him even after he kept sending me messages via text and Tinder. I was showing my roommate his Instagram and accidentally liked a photo and he immediately messaged me thinking I must be interested again. What is the best way to let someone know you’re not interested?
GOTTFRIED: Get away from this man as quickly as possible. I’m horrified that he picked Starbucks as a place for a date. Is he trying to impress you with how much money he has and is willing to spend? Doesn’t he know that McDonald’s coffee is perfectly fine? If he’s that crazy with spending his money, there’s something seriously wrong with him.
My 16-year-old son is a sweet kid who loves stand-up comedy, but recently he’s started spending too much time on websites reading crazy alt-right propaganda. He started yelling about Hilary Clinton and uranium mining conspiracies at the dinner table the other day, and called my husband an “SJW cuck” for taking away his internet access. How should we get him back on the right track?
GOTTFRIED: Consider yourself lucky about your alt-right son. Both my children use the internet and they’ve joined the Taliban. I try not to get angry about whether you’re pro or anti-Taliban because I think in some cases, both of them are wrong.
I recently started a new job, which I really love. The woman who is in charge of me, however, isn’t crazy about the fact that I smoke cigarettes because she lost her father to lung cancer. I’ve recently noticed that my cigarettes are going missing while I’m at work. The other day when I was in her office talking, I noticed cigarettes in her trash can. When I went back to my desk, I checked my pack and half of it was gone. She is my boss and I do really like her, but I also really love my cigarettes and don’t appreciate her throwing them away. What should I do?
GOTTFRIED: Firstly, I don’t believe your boss lost her father. She probably just misplaced him. Tell her she should check her files and look in the sock drawer.
One of my friends at work recently started seeing a boy that he has not stopped talking about. He finally showed me the boy’s Instagram the other day, and it turns out to be my, formally straight, ex-boyfriend that I dated for over two years. I didn’t say anything when he showed me him because I was so shocked and kind of upset that I had just found out I dated a gay man for two years. I know I should tell him, but I also want to express that I’m not really comfortable with the situation and would prefer not to hear about his sex with my formal lover. What could I say that wouldn’t make me sound like a jealous bitch?
GOTTFRIED: Don’t kick yourself over dating someone who was gay for all those years. My guess is he was totally straight until he met you. I think you can relax in knowing that you’re so horrible in bed, it could turn any straight man gay.