- - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Comedy is hard, especially in this oversensitive politically correct world. But Gilbert Gottfried doesn’t care. The obnoxious yet loveable stand-up comedian, best known for his decades of distinctive dirty joke-telling (and yelling) isn’t willing to give up just yet.

In anticipation of his coming to the District to perform at the Improv May 15-17, Mr. Gottfried talks about his worst gig ever, finding his comedy voice, fighting the PC environment and what he learned from working with Snoop Dogg.

Question: How long have you been doing stand-up comedy?

Answer: Way too long! [laughs] The first time I ever got up on stage I was 15 at The Bitter End in New York. It was their open mic night. I don’t know if I did well or if I was too stupid to know I flopped.

Q: What inspired you to get up on stage and try to be funny?

A: I was a dumb kid. I watched a lot of TV. I started imitating the people I saw on TV in the old movies they showed on reruns. I started to get an interest in show business. What I liked about show business is if you don’t know how to tie your shoelaces, and you work in a grocery store, then you’re an idiot. But if you don’t know how to tie your shoelaces and you’re Johnny Depp, then you’re an eccentric artist. Everything that is wrong with you becomes romanticized when you’re famous.

Q: Where did your “Gilbert” voice/character/persona come from?

A: I had just been performing for a long time [and had been] a million times on stage. And after a while I woke up one day and said, “Oh, my delivery is like this. That’s weird.” It just developed over the years.

Q: What was your worst gig ever?

A: There were several. A guy called me and said he wanted me to do a show. I showed up at the address, and it’s a building, not a club. I go in, and there is this warehouse space full of dirt and broken chairs. I’m sure rats were running around. And it’s dark. No audience. Just the one guy. Broken stuff and garbage. He then says, “OK, I don’t want you to do any blue material.” I excused myself, saying I wanted to buy gum, and I never came back. He might still be waiting.

Q: How do you handle hecklers?

A: Hecklers quite often are drunk and stupid. The problem with handling them [is] you say something [and] then the audience starts laughing and applauding. The heckler hears that and thinks, “I’m funny.” I usually just ignore them.

Q: When you were on “Celebrity Apprentice,” were you sad knowing if you won you would have had to give away the money?

A: Absolutely! That was the thing that made me laugh about the show was that the contestants go crazy, and they really think, “If our team sells more cupcakes then the other team, then I will be the head of Trump Enterprises.” No, nothing like that is going to happen.

Q: What did you learn from working with Snoop Dogg on “The Apprentice” and in a commercial?

A: I learned that if you are walking down the hallway of the hotel and you pass by the outside of his room for two seconds, you will get a contact high. I found several reasons to walk by. Say, maybe, 20 times or so. After which I ate 50 bags of peanut butter cups.

Q: Has political correctness ruined comedy?

A: When you did jokes it used to be set up, then punchline. Now I feel it should be set up, punchline, apology. I think every joke should come with a set of instructions that reads, “If you like the joke, laugh. If you don’t like the joke, just stay home.”

Q: Tell us about your podcast, “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast.”

A: I started the podcast because it seemed like everybody else had a podcast. I didn’t know what they were, really. [laughs]

What I’m interested in is old Hollywood, old variety shows and movies. A lot of times I’ll get these old character actors on. I had two people who were on the original “F Troop,” Ken Berry and Larry Storch. I thought, “Well, no one will listen to this,” because a lot of the time I get people no one knows. But I get all these tweets saying, “I had no idea who you were talking to or what you were talking about, but I loved it anyway.”

Q: How will you spend your downtime in between shows in D.C.?

A: I’m horrible with downtime. I will lie in bed with the remote control. There will be 20 things that I don’t want to watch. I will pick one of them and force myself to watch it. Then I’ll go pee. That’s an activity. Maybe I’ll look at my face in the mirror. I’ll ride down in the elevator. Ride back up. It’s not exactly Frank and Dino in Las Vegas.

if you go

WHAT: Gilbert Gottfried in concert

WHERE: DC Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW Washington, D.C. 20036

WHEN: Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Sunday at 8 p.m.

INFO: Tickets $22 by calling 202/296-7008 or visiting www.dcimprov.com

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