A couple of veteran comics with long-running TV talk shows traded remembrances about “the comedian’s comedian” on Wednesday night.
Real Time host Bill Maher was on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! to talk about his upcoming HBO special when the host asked him about Gilbert Gottfried, who died Tuesday at 67.
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Maher said Gottfried was booked this past year on Maher’s annual New Year’s Eve show in Hawaii.
“I’ve known him for 40 years — could never know him well. He was a hard guy to get to know well. I mean, he was so funny and so always ‘on.’ I spent hundreds of hours with the guy, but it was always sort of, like, joking.”
“Always,” Jimmy Kimmel replied. “Never answered a question seriously.”
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Maher added: “There are people I’ve known for an hour who I feel I know better than Gilbert. But I thought, ‘Here’s the time’ — that’s what that Hawaii trip was for.”
Said Kimmel: “I felt the same way about him, and it always made me feel kind of odd when I would ask him a question, and he never would give you a real answer. And in a way, I felt like the message was, ‘Why would I answer this seriously when I could be funny right now?'”
“Exactly,” Maher said. “And maybe we would have just kept that persona up in Hawaii. I could see that. … And if not, then I would just have four days laughing at Gilbert.”
Nailing the point, Maher then said, “He was the king of ‘too soon.'”
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The comics then recalled the roast of Hugh Hefner about a week after 9/11, which Kimmel was hosting, when Gottfried was booed for making jokes about the attacks. The backlash ultimately led to his being fired as the longtime voice of the duck in those Aflac commercials.
Maher then noted that he did a commentary of Real Time last week — the Friday before Gottfried’s death — about the war on jokes and “comedians in the cross-hairs.”
“I mentioned that he and Kathy Griffin, they were tasteless,” Maher said. Turning to the audience, he added, “And that why we like them!”
Watch the interview above; the Gottfried discussion starts at the 2:50 mark.
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