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Gilbert Gottfried fired by Aflac over Japan tsunami jokes [Poll]

AFLAC fires Gilbert Gottfried Aflac considers Gilbert Gottfried, for years the voice of its trademark duck, to be "lacking in humor": The company fired Gottfried on Monday in reaction to jokes he'd tweeted making fun of tsunami victims and the situation in Japan following last week's massive earthquake.

"Gilbert's recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac," Michael Zuna, a senior VP and chief marketing officer, said in a statement Monday. "Aflac Japan -- and, by extension, Japan itself -- is part of the Aflac family, and there is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times."

Three-quarters of Aflac's business is in Japan. The company, which says it is Japan's No. 1 insurer based on policies in force, on Friday donated 100 million yen -- a little more than $1.2 million -- to the International Red Cross toward recovery efforts.

On Monday, the magnitude of the March 11 Tohoku quake was upgraded to 9.0 from 8.9, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Maybe it was all funnier to Gottfried before the thousands of bodies began to wash up onshore -- his dozen or so messages (which have since been deleted from the @RealGilbert page, but for a time Monday were still visible online for some users not logged in to Twitter), were sent Saturday and Sunday. We'd repeat his words, because you know the Ministry is pretty much OK with tasteless stuff, but honestly we found a distinct lack of humor in what we read as well. (Not often we find ourselves agreeing with Heidi Montag.)

(Updated, 2 p.m. March 15: For those who've asked in comments, "How can you have a poll if you don't tell us what he said?," click the link on the word "dozen" to see a couple of the jokes. They've been hiding right there in plain sight./cdz)

It's not the first time Gottfried has gotten topical inspiration from tragedy. He sent out a joke about comedian Greg Giraldo's death on Sept. 29, the day Giraldo passed away. That tweet was still posted Monday.

And still not funny.


Reports: Comedian Greg Giraldo dead at 44

George Clooney, MTV team for Haiti quake relief telethon

Photos: Before and after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Gilbert Gottfried arrives with the Aflac duck at the 14th Annual Webby Awards in New York on June 14, 2010. Credit: Charles Sykes / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (97)

Although this is catastrophic and I agree with the US to help, I have to wonder how much help we received from Japan back on 09/11/2001?

I don't think anyone should be making jokes about the situation going on in japan. It's just devastating. How would this guy feel if he was in the japan area while this was going on and read someones twitter post making fun of it. Nothing about it's funny. It's a terrible experience, and I wish the best for the victims of this tsunami. I will keep praying and keep them in my thoughts hopefully they all are in safe places.

I don't care what tragedy happens some one somewhere will make a tasteless joke about it and of course some corporate money bags person will teach the comedian a lesson.
Yes it is sad but for the last 50 years geology research could have told them they are at serious risk (anywhere along the ring of fire) of earthquake and tsunami danger.

So what is the real tragedy here lack of a insurance company demanding engineering solutions to mitigate the dangers or insurance company's having to spend a few bucks on a gamble they were willing to take.

I did not read the jokes but i know the man is funny. Comedy is hard dying is easy

AFLAC is the number one insurer in Japan.

Aflac and it minions are full of crap. Gottfried is a comedian. As long as he made $$$$$$$$$$$$$ for these corporate jerks...you get the picture.

what happened to freedom of speech

Its amazing that when a tragedy happens how people deal with it. Some look to humor, some cry, and some simply look for who to blame... anyone who has worked for, or even used one of the aflac policies knows this company is one of the best companies out in the US. it may have a larger presence in Japan because the japanese understand how these policies work where as Americans are so fed up with looking who to blame they dont stop and listen to one of the only companies who pay out benefits, pay dividends, and have a positive stock... oh yeah and they are the only American born company STILL on American soil. Call into their toll free number and a nice american actually answers... Gottfried is a public figure and tied to Aflac he even deleted his remarks cause he knew they were wrong... all you guys below, may you never need any assistance, cause frankly i wouldnt lend you a hand if you were drowing in gold....Nicely done Aflac... glad to see a company can stand on its morals for once.

Gottfried has always struck me as someone with halitosis of the personality. His humor is not clever, just unpleasant and grating, with a sphincter-like style. This incident now adds crass insensitivity to his list of personality attributes. It is not about limiting his freedom of speech. He can still say whatever mean and nasty things he likes. He simply does not get to keep his grossly overpaid job.

Godfrey's comments are insensitive and in shockingly poor taste. I agree with Aflac's decision. I just heard that Godfrey has already received the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Say what you may to defend him and his freedom of speech, but if I lost someone in that catastrophe and he made those jokes in the same room as me he would be dragged out on a stretcher and I would be hauled out in handcuffs. You come to my wife's funeral and make jokes about her death and you're going to be talking through a wired jaw for quite a while.

We have freedom of speech, and this jerk can say anything he wishes. Aflac also has the right to control and maintain their image and absolute right to choose who speaks for them.

I say good riddance!

Ken, the Japanese prime minister at the time of the 9/1101 attacked ordered special security for the US military installations in Japan. There wasn't much else Japan could do to help in that instance. And I don't see that that is particularly relevant to this situation. There may be 10,000 or more dead in Japan and thousands more left homeless, children orphaned, livelihoods destroyed. I honor all those who lost their lives on 9/11 but this doesn't even compare with what Japan is going through now.

Gil, I feel your pain dude. Don't let this get you down. You're an F-18, bro. Come on over and bring your machete.

Bataan Death March. That's all I have to say!

How can you run a poll asking us if his firing was merited, if you don't tell us what he said?

I noticed that James Webster said that there was an engineering failure. To you I say: Japan has building codes that are on par with American building codes. If it was a simple quake, many buildings would be structurally damaged, as they would in any 9.0 earthquake, but still standing. What is the real problem is the tsunami. It takes about 3 feet of tsunami wave to move a car, about 7 to move anything smaller than a semi. Even with the best engineering in the world, no practical building could stand against 23 feet of water.

And yes, we have freedom of speech... which means that all of the people who disagree with Mr. Gottfried have the right to voice their displeasures. And yes, he took down his comments, but it was not because he knew they were wrong. It was because he wanted to be able to get a job in the future and to appear repentant in front of the media. If he really knew they were wrong, they would not have been posted.

And to Ken: Should aid be based on whether they have helped us before? Does U.S. help even have anything to do with Mr. Gottfired's inappropriate comments?

I commend AFLAC for dealing with Mr. Gottfried in a swift manner. Perhaps the man will learn his lesson.

Ken: Lots.

This is hardly a first for Gottfried. Anyone remember his "I have to fly to L.A. tonight, but I can't get a direct flight: They have to make a stop at the Empire State Building," joke right after 9/11? If he'd been a corporate spokesman back then, he'd probably have been fired for that, too.

He just made a dumb joke. My God, he plays a duck mouthpiece for an insurance conglomerate! With the payout AFLAC's going to be making, this is probably a cost cutting strategy. Couldn't he just have apologized, and then everybody forgets it ever happened? Make him do some charity work on behalf of the company. Yeah, a solution to a non problem.

@Costume Contumely -- Christie D'Zurilla here from MOG. Click the link on the word "dozens" if you want to see some examples.


(P.S. Thanks for teaching me a new word too. Seriously.)

@James Taylor,

Immediately after 9/11 did you also say, "The Trail of Tears, that's all I have to say" or "The Long Walk, that's all I have to say" or "My Lai, that's all I have to say"?

I'd call you a moron, but that would probably get pulled as a personal attack. People, and whole nations and cultures, make mistakes, and learn from them.

It sounds like Gottfried 'got fried" and made stupid jokes. I have never cared for him and always thought him crude and short on talent. I do not understand how he became a "celebrity" (if you can classify him as such) but it is likely AFLAC will not miss him. All they need to do is have the duck have a "voice accident" with AFLAC helping him through the rehabilitation ... and then when the duck speaks again, make the voice rich and strong ... like Patrick Warburton's. Gottfried will be quickly forgotten

of course its justified. Without a doubt when 75percent of your business comes from the Country that is most affected by the Earthquake and Tsunami then its not good business to have this guy around.

Geez of course it warrants dismissal, I would not want anyone commenting here running my business if I knew my user base was being insulted by the very people I hire. 75% in a substantial amount and no "comedian" should jeopardize that especially since Aflac isn't even a Japanese company. International business is a two way street.

With his limited talent, he will find it hard to find another employer, I mean would you want that voice representing your company?

Christie D'Zurilla here from MOG with a gentle reminder that we don't publish comments that include links, slurs, personal attacks, profanity or graphic sexual descriptions. Heck, we don't even publish profanity if you use aster*sks to mask the words.

If you're wondering why your comment hasn't gone live, it probably fell into one of those categories. I'd say "I'm only the messenger," but in fact I'm actually the filter.


Thx to all for reading and commenting.


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