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The Real Reason Gilbert Gottfried Was Fired From Voicing The AFLAC Duck

When the news of the devastating death of comedian Gilbert Gottfried came on April 12, 2022, entertainment lost a true juggernaut. The esteemed entertainer died after an unspecified, lengthy health issue at the age of 67, and praise from his fellow comedians has made clear how important Gottfried had been in the world of comedy.

Gottfried's entertainment career was a lengthy one, and as is the way of the industry, it had its ups and downs. Among many other things, he was known for his avian-themed voice roles, which included the parrot Iago in Disney's "Aladdin," and the popular insurance company ad mascot, Aflac duck. Unfortunately, his stint as the latter came to an abrupt halt when the comedian's penchant for edgy humor came in conflict with the family-friendly necessities of the role (per The Hollywood Reporter). What, exactly, caused the Aflac insurance company and Gottfried to part ways? Let's take a look at the reason Gilbert Gottfried was fired from voicing the Aflac duck.

Gottfried's tsunami jokes cost him the Aflac duck voice role

Though he was known to take roles in family-friendly projects, Gilbert Gottfried rarely positioned himself as easy entertainment (via Vulture). He was fond of taking things right to the edge and beyond, as evidenced by his notorious use of the famously filthy "Aristocrats" joke. That was a part of his esteem among his peers — he told the jokes he wanted to tell, and if someone didn't like them, he was perfectly fine with them leaving.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, this is precisely what happened in March 2011, when Gottfried reacted to the tsunami that had devastated Japan with a series of Twitter jokes. "Japan is really advanced. They don't go to the beach. The beach comes to them," one of his multiple tweets about the subject read (via THR).

Aflac was decidedly not in on the joke, especially since three-quarters of the company's business was in Japan. As a response to Gottfried's tweets, they promptly stopped working with the comedian and started looking for a new voice for their mascot duck. "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," a statement from the company's representative said. "There is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times."