Politically-incorrect comedian Gilbert Gottfried has been fired from his job as the voice of the Aflack Duck, after making a series of tweets that mocked the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
“I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, ‘They’ll be another one floating by any minute now,’” read one tweet from Gottfried, who became famous for his racist and anti-Semitic stand-up comedy routine.
But Gottfried’s Twitter jokes, posted hours after the devastation in Japan became clear, touched a line the funnyman had previously ventured without incident over many times in his career.
“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,” said the company, which does 75% of its business in Japan, in a press statement. “There is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times.”
The company says it will donate US$100 million to disaster relief and plans a “nationwide casting call” to find a new voice for their iconic mascot.
This is not the first time Gottfried has made truly insenstive jokes at inappropriate times. The Jewish comedian has also made many anti-Semitic jokes over the years, especially on fellow tribesman Howard Stern’s radio show. In this clip, he mocks a Holocaust victim:
Gottfried has also ridiculed 9/11. The New York Times reports that three weeks after the terrorist attacks, he made light of the tragedy at a Friars Club roast for Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. He said he tried to catch a plane but couldn’t get a direct flight because “they said they have to stop off at the Empire State Building.” The joke prompted boos from the audience.