Cognitive Psychology

Gilbert Gottfried Dies and Burnout

Gilbert Gottfried died at age 67 from a rare genetic disorder called type II myotonic dystrophy, a kind of muscular dystrophy. He was quite young to have died. He was much older than I had imagined him to be. He always seemed old to me, so when I saw that he had died and his age, I was surprised.

I always liked Gottfried. I thought he was funny. I just hadn’t thought of him in twenty or more years. I can’t remember the last time I saw him perform. I didn’t know he played the parrot in Aladdin. I never saw the movie, but because it’s Disney, I’m sure the GQP will be pissed off about it somehow some way.

Here’s the thing, and the reason I’m posting about his death, I watched several videos of him performing after seeing obituaries and tributes pop up on various websites and on my social media. Honestly, I couldn’t remember his act at all. People said it was vulgar and pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable. Seems like the kind of comedian Ye Olde snarky, sarcasticky, profaney Blogge should like, amirite? So, take a moment to watch him perform. You won’t. I know because no one watches video on a blog.

Here he is roasting George Takei way back in 2008. He told some really old faggot jokes to a really old faggot. I guess that is what passed for pushing the envelope back then. I wouldn’t know. I had just moved to Viet Nam and was pretty out of touch with pop culture. So, be offended if that’s your thing. It’s just historical fact right now. Don’t go out an discriminate against LGBTQ+ people because you’re homophobia was activated by his jokes. Other than mischaracterizing gay sex, I don’t think he actually denigrated gay men. Anywho.

Another Gottfried shtick making the rounds is the famous Aristocrats joke. It is said to be the filthiest joke ever told I guess because it breaks every sexual taboo known to humankind in graphic detail. There you’ve been warned. If you’d rather read it, it is in the Rolling Stones link. If you can’t imagine it being told in Gottfried’s patented garbled voice, you should clench your teeth, prepare to laugh, and watch the video, which you won’t because buffering or some such malarky.

So Gilbert Gottfried dies of some rare disease that takes him quite suddenly but not wholly unexpectedly. It’s sad, right, but seriously, who is really all that sad besides his family and close friends, right?

Okay, I just climbed out of the rabbit hole of Gilbert Gottfried Youtube videos. I recommend it, especially if you’re not at work and you’re in a place where you can laugh until tears spring from your eyes and you don’t mind some inappropriate humor. I did gain one insight that I’d like to share and hear from you in the comments. Gottfried mastered the art of eliciting nervous laughter and then converting that into some real laughter. His entire routine is saying something completely outrageous and outlandish, which you know is supposed to be funny, so you laugh nervously, then he says something that actually is funny, and you get this perfect moonami of laughter that seems to sustain itself until you are longing for it to stop.

Burnout: The Over and Under

While we all know that Ye Olde Blogge loves it some grief and posts about grief fairly often that isn’t the reason we’re posting about Gilbert Gottfried’s death. We’re posting about his death because my reaction to his death, and I suspect that of many others, shows us just how burned out we really are.

If, like me, you found yourself being more upset about his death than it really warranted from you, then you know you are burned out. We’ve been living under such stress for so long and needing to hold our shit together for so long that when something comes along that even gets close to those distressing emotions, it is like a pin pricking a water balloon, the whole thing just rips asunder and unleashes the torrent.

When you’re overreacting to small provocations or underreacting to big ones, you know you are burned out. That’s what Gottfried’s death did for me. It showed me just how burned out I am. Like I said, I always liked him. I thought he was funny, but I haven’t even thought of Gottfried in over twenty years. Why would I be upset that he was dead?

The other thing that Gottfried’s death did for me is that it got me to laugh. Laughing is good medicine, especially for us who are burned out. You can burn a lot of stress and strain through laughter. That feeling of fatigue in your face and torso, the drying tears on your cheeks. When you laugh, you tense your muscles as you contort your face and body, which causes you a deeper relaxation after you’re through.

So, go on, go chase after Gilbert Gottfried down his comedy rabbit hole. Laugh until you stop, and then tell us about it in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

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7 replies »

  1. Meh ~ that’s how I responded to my son’s text, meh.

    Maybe I read too many Heinleins too long ago and like christianity am forever doomed to a jaded worldview, but I tend to the school of thought that when we began making jokes of vulgarities we began the slide. Pitching to the lowest common denominator. Right in there with the break down of common courtesies, and a general lack of respect for anything. Like looking up from your lunch to see a television advertisement for “feminine products.” And stadium sports: feeding lions to the christians; bread and circuses, beer and football … predicting is easy when the hallmarks, the harbingers, are all there for all to see. Doesn’t look like it’s gonna’ be a long slide.

    Which is to say much ado about nothing, I didn’t find him funny or even entertaining; would as more likely than not change the channel upon hearing his voice ~ though I must admit the Parrot in Aladdin was perfect.

    Caveat: there’s a link on my blogroll to a George Carlin video that is perfectly vulgar …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Ten Bears!

      I dunno about vulgarities. When you teach chimpanzees the sign language for shit, they immediately begin calling each other shit. #ScienceFact. After learning that, I figured that’s why chimps throw shit. Seems like vulgarities as humor or anything else started pretty far back on the evolutionary trail. If it is a slippery slope, we’ve been sliding a long long time.

      We have become a ruder less considerate society, but I don’t think it has much to do with common denominator. I think it has more to do with cultural narcissism. Politeness is predicated on understanding how your behavior affects those around you, and, then, limiting the inconvenience and damage you cause.

      That said, I’ll pencil you in as the underreaction to the news of his death.



  2. Like you, I hadn’t thought of Gilbet Gottfreid in decades. On Morning Edition at NPR they just played a clip of one of his cleaner bits, one about maple syrup, “They found this disgusting goo leaking out of trees…”. It struck me how his use of that cracking, stressed out, almost deranged voice sets the audience up for the laughter that releases their own tension, fights their own burnout. Bobcat Goldthwait used to do much the same thing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Howdy Bob!

      Yeah, it’s like when you hear the voice and the vulgar story, you are waiting for the punchline. You’re wanting it to be over. At least that was one of my reactions to the aristocrats joke. Just make it stop. How much worse can it get? His roast of Roseanne Barr had much the same affect.

      Laughter, like crying, vigorous exercise and sex, releases a lot of pent up tension. I know where my priorities are when it comes to reducing stress.


      Liked by 1 person

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