Some things are just true. The sun comes up in the east, water flows downhill, and Gilbert Gottfried is funny. Obnoxious too. Grating. He can say some inappropriate things. And yes, he's always in trouble. But like the old lounge comics he takes his cues from, he's got zingers. And he'll get you, eventually.
Fly on the Wall: I don't think I've never asked anybody this question before. Certainly not so early in the morning. But I saw this on social media and wondered — What was it like when you were on Celebrity Apprentice and Donald Trump grabbed your pussy?
Gilbert Gottfried: I was both shocked and flattered.
I suspect so.
I thought it was a little forward of him, but I was very impressed by his success.
How strange is it to have done that show with the soon to be President of the United States.
It's definitely surreal. I start thinking what that might mean anybody else whose shows I've been on. I mean, Jay Leno could be President. David Letterman could be President. It's a surreal time. But I remember when the election going on and it was him and Hillary. Out of the entire United States it comes down to these two.
This is what I've observed. And I could be wrong. But you really seem to enjoy what you do a lot. Is that a good act you put on, or is comedy still a lot of fun for you?
It depends on the day. Sometimes it depends on that particular 15-minutes of the day. Sometimes I enjoy what I'm doing. Other times, like when I'm going to another state to do another show, I feel like I'm Willie Loman lugging his suitcase around.
I've toured a little and know that Willie Loman feeling.
And it's a funny thing, especially traveling, going to the comedy shows. Whenever TV shows show a politician or a rock star screaming out "I love you Chicago!" and they're not in Chicago, it's always played for a laugh. I'm always like, "Yeah, I know exactly what that feels like."
Is there any part of it you like more these days? The stand up? TV? Voice?
I like doing voice overs. I liked when they had more sitcoms on the air. More so than reality shows, though reality shows have taken over. I liked when they used to call me up and just go, "You're going to be Jack the Plumber in this episode." That was much more easy and fun. It's funny, with the reality shows, which I was avoiding for the longest time, then I realized, that is TV now. And the amount of people who watch it is pretty incredible.
I'm with you. I remember thinking, this is a fad. It will be gone soon, nobody's really invested in watching this. Jokes on me!
Oh, yeah. After a while, before I said I'd do it, I started to feel like some old time stage actor who looks down on movies. And a funny thing happened too, when they were offering me these different shows, and I'd done one of those celebrity paranormal shows, which was pretty ridiculous.
I don't think I saw that one.
Well, you didn't miss anything. We're all — me and a group of other celebrities including former porn star Traci Lords — were in some abandoned insane asylum and the ghost of an insane serial killer is still there. And they gave us these ghost packs. It had some kind of thermometer there. And if one part of the room was one degree higher or lower than another part, that was proof of paranormal activity. Cause, you know, abandoned insane asylums are known for their temperature control. If there's a breeze coming in, that's obviously a ghost. So I'd say no to these things. I'd think, "I want to be in a movie with Robert De Niro." And then I started to realize, the Kardashians have a bigger audience than Robert De Niro. And two, I wound up with a very small part in a Robert De Niro picture recently. So I guess the whole business has totally changed.
You have a real knack for saying things that get you into hot water.
I thought I'd keep that out of the press.
But most of the time you turn it around and it works for you. Gift or curse?
Oh, God. Employment-wise, it's a curse. But I always feel like, whenever anything happens to me, I always think twice and do it anyway. Bad part is losing work and the internet goes nutty on you. But the good part is, sometimes when something happens to me that's some big controversy, it's almost like slapping a "new-and-improved" label on an old product. When people start saying, "Gilbert Gottfried's career is over, what I realized is, when your career's really over, people don't mention your name. If the top story of the night is your career is over, it means it definitely isn't over, or they wouldn't talk about it.
Perfect point of reference — the time you tell the 9/11 joke, lose the room, then, unlikely as it might seem, you win them all back by telling The Aristocrats. Which is a completely different kind of perverse. But the okay kind, I guess. And that's the model. You always turn it around. Except for maybe with Aflac.
There they got rid of me, got loads of free publicity for getting rid of me, then hired a guy who sounds just like me for a lot less money, thus bringing closure to a terrible tragedy.
I asked readers what they wanted to know about Gilbert Gottfried, and they all wanted to know about your voice. But everybody asks about your voice. What I want to know, as a man approaching 50 who squints a lot, can you recommend I good, yet affordable wrinkle cream?
No. I just go with all the other actresses for Botox. And I'm going to get chin implants put in.
You've been playing this character for so long, with the squinting and the voice — does it bleed in and out of daily life, or is it something you turn on and off like a light.
I can turn it on and off. And the weird part about it, I've found after doing it for so long, it's like I have two personalities. One's not more relevant than the other.
That's got to be fun for everybody. Are there signs friends and family know to look for to know which Gilbert they're getting.
In any case the less funny one. With the voice or not.
You're inspired by a lot of older comics. But where do you look for new material?
That's kind of weird because I don't really look for material. Sometimes something will hit me and and I'll go up on stage and try it out and it gets expanded. But I've never actually written anything down?
Yeah, and I have a horrible work ethic as far as the idea of sitting down and typing out bits and all that. So I'll have it all in my head and I'll think I'll do this bit or that. Then I realize I've been doing a bit so long I'll ask, "Hey, any of you watch Bonanza?" Sometimes if I've been doing a bit way too long I feel like, wow, I'm on autopilot now. I could be working out mathematical problems while I'm doing this.
You said Bonanza. So I've got to bring this back to your podcast. Just a great repository for fans of 20th-Century show business.
With me it's a suppository.
It's a pain in the ass?
Yeah. It's one of those things. Years ago there were these shows like Fantasy Island and theLove Boat. They'd dig up these people like you thought were dead, and then you saw them and thought, 'Hey, they're just as good as they ever were."
Setting a course for adventure.
I was originally going to call it "The Before It's Too Late show" and a couple of times that's happened. I've called a guest, they agree to do it, and the day before they die. We've had several guests up their in their 90s. A few of them, and they remember everything.
Any favorite stories?
Unfortunately this happens. When the mic is off all of a sudden they come up with a great story. Dick Van Dyke told me, off mic, in school his nickname was Dick Nose. Whenever the teacher would ask a question and say, "Who knows the answer," all the other students would say, "Dick knows, Dick knows!"
Thumbing through Twitter last night I noticed a tweet from Mr. Avengers director, Joss Whedon that read, "this THIS this." It linked to a graphic essay about the contemporary political landscape, and lessons that might be learned from Memphis. So I clicked.
Every year on this day Fly on the Wall invites readers to take a spin down scenic Union Ave. and stop in for a seven layer burrito at the Taco Bell where the other Taco Bell used to be. See, before the first Taco Bell was erected on that site, 1447 Union was home to the Taliesyn Ballroom. And on Jan 6, 1978 the original, imploding, disaster-bound Sex Pistols played one of their few U.S. dates. It was a big night in the cradle of Rock-and-Roll, a psychobilly hotbedwith itsownnotablepunkhistory.
The Pistols show was documented, a nifty, noisy listen. Crank it up in the car on this beautiful snow day and celebrate punk the way it was meant to be celebrated — with a greasy sack of cheap, mass-produced food product laden with calories and colonialism.
Last year this Taco Bell (where the other, more authentic Taco Bell used to be) was still playing canned Christmas music. Punk as hell.
Obviously, it's not hard to troll online polls and Democrats are motivated. But, as previously uninsured folks stare down the very real chance of losing their recently insured status, it's hard to say the soot and tobacco all over Blackburn's pinched, bitter face is completely devoid of meaning.
How can it be that Republicans, after opposing the Affordable Care Act tooth and nail for six years, haven't got an alternative? I mean, aside from the obvious fact that none of them care if Uncle Phil gets his medicine or not because he should have worked harder when he was healthy. Duh.
It's because Obamacare was the workable Republican plan, they only hated it because — Obama. And no matter how hard the kleptocracy scrambles, they can't come up with something just as conflicted and industry forward that looks completely different to consumers who'll experience zero value from less Medicaid or potentially disastrous tort reform.
So, as the great unraveling gets underway, let's all have a good laugh at Marsha's exploding cigar. It'll be her turn to laugh when we're all crawling with something expensive and incurable.
Will nobody step up to save this admittedly unattractive house on Gallatin Rd. in Nashville where Tom Parker, a Dutch-born carnival barker turned music promoter, once marketed Elvis Presley, while helping himself to upwards of 50% of the artist's earnings? Anybody? Somebody?
"According to the terms of the sale, [the previous owner] gets dibs on everything inside. He may save some items and then sell the antique light fixtures and cabinets, and the wood paneling and complete wet bar from the vintage basement."
Would look good in bronze... in front of a car wash.
2016 was a weird year for everybody. Here at Fly on the Wall, it was just another year. So, without further ado, here’s your damn recap.
PHOTO OF THE YEAR
Let's have a great big standing-O for former Tennessee state rep Curry Todd who was caught on camera stealing his opponent’s yard signs.
And in his honor, some ZZ Top. Weird Crime
• Who peed in your cornflakes? Hard to say. But a criminal investigation was opened when video surfaced on the internet of a man urinating on a conveyor belt at Memphis’ Kellogg’s factory.
• Delta Airlines flight attendant Rachel Trevor of Memphis became the Robin Hood of airplane bottle liquor sales when she was arrested for stealing approximately 1,500 itty-bitty bottles of booze from Delta and selling them on Craigslist for a buck a piece. The liquor was given an in-flight value of $12,000.
"Court is back in session!"
• If you're going down, go down swinging. Derrick Thomas, arrested in Jonesboro, Arkansas, last month for indecent exposure and "enjoying himself," decided to expose himself again — to Justice. After leave the courtroom for a drink of water, Thomas returned — running by all accounts — with his shirt off, his pants around his ankles, and his arms in the air." Court is back in session," Thomas was quoted as saying.
• LaShundra Smith, charged with indecent exposure for being partially nude on a bench at Mary Malone Elizabeth Park, told officers she was "trying to air out."
• Kasey Collins was an ordinary peeping Tom. He only makes it into this category because WMC left one very important letter out of its identifying text making him a "peeing Tom." That's a much more interesting crime.
• WTTE-TV Columbus reported on a thwarted plan to transport drugs to Memphis. A shipping clerk got suspicious and discovered a bottle of liquid codeine inside an adorable teddy bear.
• There needs to be an addendum to the old saying "Don't cry over spilled milk." Don't stab people over spilled cheese dip, especially if it's not Pancho's. Seriously people, don't do that.
An unidentified 35-year-old Memphis woman was rushed into surgery at Methodist hospital after she wrecked the car she was driving to the emergency room. She'd been stabbed by another woman, Yolanda Tucker, who, according to a police report, became unreasonably upset after the victim spilled a container of Rotel.
• Here's a mugshot of Jerry Lawler.
The rang kang spent a night in the pokey following a domestic dispute. Charges were dropped when authorities couldn't determine who the aggressor was.
• Weird Story of the Year: According to WMC Action News 5, thieves have murdered four people while attempting to steal hair weaves, "and now many Memphians say demonic spirits could be to blame." That's right folks, WMC scooped the rest of Memphis media on an important story about vanity, greed, consumer hair products, and secret doorways to realms infernal, where ancient evil lurks, waiting to swoop down and snatch a wig right off your goddamn head. Notable quote: "Whose-ever hair I was wearing on my head, that heifer had a bad omen."
• Best Worst Use of Social Media: When people are critical of your work it's always a good idea to follow the lead of WMC-TV weatherman Spencer Denton and remind all the haters there are dead children in the world, and it's sad. When Denton joined other local weather forecasters in over-hyping a winter storm that never materialized but still resulted in mass event cancellations, school closings, and business shuttering, people got angry. In response to complaints Denton dropped a post on his "Spencer Denton Meteorologist" Facebook page implying that people need to chillax and think about unrelated tragedies, like the death of 2-year-old Noah Chamberlin, an East Tennessee boy whose body was found several days after he disappeared during a hike with his grandmother. "We are already getting blasted by people about our forecast, and the event hasn't even happened yet. And some of the comments are personal attacks," Denton wrote. "Funny thing is, I really don't care. All I can think about is that little boy Noah and what he endured over the past several days. It puts things in perspective. If you get 3 to 6 inches of snow, enjoy a snow day with family and friends. If you get an inch or less, be thankful for less accidents on the roads. Whether my forecast is right or wrong, I get to go home to a little two-year-old girl tonight, for that I am truly thankful. #RIPNOAH."
• Best Worst Cover Design: University of Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch has announced he wouldn't be returning for his final year of eligibility with the Memphis Tigers. Sports analysts have tapped Paxton as a likely first-round pick in this April's NFL draft. His position near the top of mock drafts has resulted in a flurry of national media attention and this picture in The Commercial Appeal.
• Best Worst Media Promo (Runner Up): No comment required.
• Best Worst Media Promotion (Winner!!!): "Memphis Most is now live." Run for the hills before it murders us all!!!
• Best Typo that Should Be An Actual Word: CHOAS!!! Remember Elvis Week 2016 when Black Lives Matters demonstrators showed up at Graceland to engage in a bit of modestly disruptive protest, police showed up in numbers sufficient to ensure there wasn't any fan base mingling, and it rained like hell? Those were the days, my friend. Or as WMC-TV put it in an alarming all-caps headline: "Elvis Week CHOAS." As in "Get CHOAS a proofreader." Gotta admit though, CHOAS is a good word for the fictional world of mayhem out TV news stations drum up by over-reporting crime without context. It's CHOAS out there!
• Best Misspelling in a Help Wanted Ad that Also Explains Everything Wrong With Contemporary Broadcast Media: The winner is WREG. They were looking for a new assistant news director able to...
• set the tone of the station's content
• put the "schizzle" into Breaking News."
• Most Important Breaking News: Thanks CA!
Weird Odds and Ends
•Weird shit you can buy: Have you been looking for the perfect toy to teach friends and family about inappropriate touching? If so, you may want to check and see if Family Dollar's still selling this T-Rex/Stegosaurus combo.
Here's how it works: The T-Rex has a yellow button where his junk should be, and he hollers whenever someone mashes it.
• Austin thought it could get away with something. Couldn't.
• Butt Plug is the New New Tumbleweave: Tumbleweaves — the lost wigs and all-too-familiar hair pieces we see blowing down the sidewalk — are so 2015. The future belongs to abandoned sex toys.
This adorable, pink butt plug was spotted in the Cooper-Young neighborhood, standing bolt upright in the middle of the street.
It raised a lot of questions. Questions like, Did it just fall out? Were words exchanged? Did somebody say, "It's not you, it's me?"
• Photo of the Year (Mississippi Edition): Remember when Hernando, Mississippi Mayor Chip (real name) Johnson told TV reporters that the nude photo he texted a girlfriend, while embarrassing, shouldn't interfere with his performance running city government? But what about everybody else's performance? Who can even think about mayor stuff when all they can think about is mayor stuff? YIKES!
I'm sure I left a bunch of stuff out. I always do, but that's what comments are for. Share your weird Mid-South, 2016.
Fake news has been getting a bad rap, and it's about time too. But, as this column will hopefully (and helpfully!) illustrate, not all fake news is created equal. (Equally?) Anyway, it's not all the same. And while your pesky Fly on the Wall trucks primarily in reality, news parodies have always been one of the site's most popular components. Occasionally we fool people, but that's never the goal, and unlike all that other fake news out there, you can tell our facts from our fiction by the "parody" tab at the top of the page.
Judging by this year's most liked and shared parodies Fly on the Wall readers are a twisted, artistically-minded bunch with a taste for dumb puns and dark slapstick. You're my kind of people and, in order of ascending popularity, your favorites were...
5. When Memphians started painting rocks and hiding them like Easter eggs...
Memphis Facing Severe Unpainted Rock Crisis
It's 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning and 87-year-old Tony Lancilunghi would normally be roaming the city with his rolling shopping cart in search of the city's flattest, roundest stones. Lancilunghi is a competitive stone skipper, who hadn't missed a day's practice since he was seven years old. Until last week, anyway, when the old timer says he took up whittling.
"I didn't know there was some rule about taking more than one," he spits defiantly. "I saw some of them were painted up to look like the California Raisins, but I don't give two hoots about any of that hippity-hop mess." Click to continue...
A very serious person.
4. When people thought a Black Lives Matters protest was too disruptive...
Polite East Memphis Demonstration Goes Unnoticed
Members of the Nice Lives Matter movement have expressed mild, thoughtfully worded disappointment that their orderly, single-file march down Tuckahoe Rd from S. Goodlett to Perkins Ext., and back again, was completely ignored and accomplished nothing. Click to continue...
Scene of the crime.
3. When a Memphis tiger did nothing for the city's reputation...
Memphis Zoo's Tiger Says He Isn't Sorry
Mohan, the male Sumatran tiger on loan to the Sacramento Zoo from Memphis says he doesn't feel the least bit bad about actions resulting in the death of female Sumatran tiger Baha.
"Am I sorry for killing her," Mohan asks rhetorically. "Well, it's regrettable, I suppose, that some people's feelings have been hurt as a result of what happened yesterday. But c'mon. I'm a fucking tiger. I have the right to kill any potential mate, especially if she smells weird." Click to continue...
BFFs no more.
2. When dicks go rogue...
Zoo President Shot After Falling Into Gorilla Enclosure
Gorilla keeper Inna Myst says her team of large primate experts responded appropriately after Memphis Zoo President Chuck Brady fell into Primate Canyon's gorilla exhibit. "We understand the public's concern," Myst says. "We shot the chief executive of a major zoological attraction and Memphis deserves an explanation. I just want everybody to understand that a lot of thought goes into our contingency plans and once Brady fell into the gorilla exhibit, taking him out was the only option that made sense." Click to continue...
When the going gets weird...
1. When Donald Trump was elected POTUS...
Trump Taps Prince Mongo For Secretary of the Interior
In a surprise 3 a.m. announcement President-elect Donald J. Trump said notorious alien/Memphian Prince Mongo would join his cabinet as Secretary of the Interior. Click to continue...
Surely somebody on your Christmas list will appreciate Guyliner Jesus and St. Manbun. Both action figures are currently available at the Midtown Cash Saver. You can buy them separately, but obviously they'll be a lot more fun as a set. Because you can pose them and make up stories and stuff.
GuyLinerJesus: 'Sup, Bunny, what brings you to the Cash Saver this blessed day?
St. ManBun: You know, just getting some Pledge and stuff to shine my bling. You?
GuyLiner Jesus: Doubting Thomas wants to see some boob, check it out.
Isn't it just like Dollar Tree and Save-A-Lot to take the last cookie in the jar without even asking if it's okay? Judging by this CA headline, these bargain shops are up to their old pie thieving ways again. Only they're not. Binghamton is a food DESERT, and these stores will improve the area's lack of access to groceries.
Your pesky Fly on the Wall lives in a glass house. Typos and misspellings happen more and more in the fast paced world of online journalism. Some of them are just funnier than others.
Phones are buzzing in the halls of Shelby Co. government this morning because of a Facebook post shared by David Barber, Deputy Director of Finance for the Shelby County Department of Corrections. According to the accompanying status, the KKK is more American than two-term US president Barack Obama. Get ready, this story's just starting to crank up, and will probably be everywhere, shortly.
Here's the offending post from Nov. 7.
And, in case you're wondering who the guy is, it's all in his profile.