BWW Review: Gilbert Gottfried Kicks Off Stand-Up Series At Black Box PAC
Gilbert Gottfried appeared at the Black Box Performing Arts Center in Teaneck, New Jersey - a quaint theater off Queen Anne Road in the heart of town - for a fundraiser on Thursday, June 27. His presence kick-started the venue's first-ever monthly standup comedy series that will begin in September and feature top-level performers.
Fellow funnyman and Garden State native Chip Ambrogio, a contributing writer for the Friars Club Roast, opened the hour-long, sold-out show presented by J. Irwin Productions and the Black Box PAC.
"Chip and his partner-in-comedy, Jack Hoffman of J. Irwin Productions, stopped by Black Box PAC a few months back to check out the space, [and we] ended up working together for this event," explained Artistic Director Matt Okin. "Because they have worked with Gilbert in the recent past, we all agreed he would be perfect to get things rolling for us at Black Box PAC."
The gig was well-attended by about four-dozen spectators who swigged beers while they listened to Ambrogio recount his recent experience with an invitation to his 35th high school reunion, which he received via a friend request on Facebook.
"My question is, if you wanted to be my friend, why didn't you talk to me in homeroom in 1982? What do you say to someone you haven't seen in 35 years?" He mused. "Someone you may have shared a special moment with. A first dance? A kiss. All I could come up with was, 'Hey, Coach Mike.' I was in Pennsylvania last weekend, you still can't do that joke in Pennsylvania."
While working a string of odd jobs since and having worked hard to achieve his dream of the spotlight, Ambrogio recognized a familiar face, his guidance counselor.
"After 35 years, the guy's still a temp," he said. "And I'm thinking, no wonder my career is going the way it is. I was taking career advice from some guy who couldn't get his own fucking job."
He continued, "But it all worked out. I'm at the Black Box now, right?"
While the audience cheered, they also applauded him for reaching his recent weight loss milestone of 15 pounds.
"It was tough being a fat kid growing up," he recalled. "For Halloween all the other kids would get a candy bar. I'd get a head of lettuce and they would make me run to the next house."
After cracking puns about hair loss and his dysfunctional family, Ambrogio welcomed up Gottfried, dubbed "the comedian's comedian" serving among the comics on the "Roast of David Hasselhoff" on Comedy Central to the voice of the vexed duck on the Aflac commercial, among a decades-long list of film and TV credits, to the stage.
"I've worked with Gilbert many times and the first time it was good and bad," said Ambrogio. "It was good because I got to work with one of my comedy idols; it was bad because the next day Aflac canceled my insurance."
Escorted to the stage to the tune of "Start Me Up" by The Rolling Stones, Gottfried, who was clad in a green plaid shirt, grabbed the mic uttering three terse lines in his signature gravelly voice: "Ya came to see me. Ya saw me. Get out," he joked.
Gottfried called the audience a dynamite group.
"I mean dynamite in the literal sense of the word. Something that can explode and kill a person," he mused. "You're like battery acid, bubbling away at the flesh. A big black rusty chrome bar embedded in the eye socket and you're there going, 'Why did it have to be a rusty chrome bar? And there's a midget jumping up and down."
Speaking of being harmed and dangerous, Gottfried joked about his experiences interfacing with people with unsightly pustules.
"People like that could walk into a bank and go, "All right, hand over the money!" Gottfried says, gesturing with the tips of both his index fingers on each side of his nose, threatening to squeeze the imaginary zit.
Gottfried's unabashed, politically incorrect and at times, dark humor, may have offended some, but it was all in good fun and had the audience at the Black Box PAC cracking up with every gut-busting gag. After impersonations of Bill Cosby babbling and Bob Dylan mingling with Floyd the Barber, the low-key haircutter on "The Andy Griffith Show" the season after a stroke, Gottfried even poked fun at himself:
"I'm self-employed. Ever since I became self-employed, I can honestly say my boss is a no good Jew bastard."
For upcoming events and classes, visit Black Box PAC in Teaneck on the web at http://www.blackboxpac.com/