A day after he was axed as the official spokesman for the Aflac duck by the insurance company, Gilbert Gottfired took to his Twitter page to apologize for the offensive jokes he posted over the weekend which cost him his job.
"I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my attempt at humor regarding the tragedy in Japan," Gottfried wrote in a Tweet on his official page. "I meant no disrespect, and my thoughts are with the victims and their families."
In a series of Tweets, which were deleted from the comedian's page after yesterday's firing, Gottfried joked about the earthquake and tsunami disasters saying, "Japan is really advanced. They don't go to the beach. The beach comes to them." In another joke he wrote, "What do the Japanese have in common with @howardstern? They're both radio active."
"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," Aflac Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Michael Zuna said in a statement released on 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."
However, both Joan Rivers and Howard Stern came to the comedian's defense.
That's what comedians do!!! We react to tragedy by making jokes to help people in tough times feel better through laughter, Rivers said in a Tweet posted on Tuesday.
"Here is the guy that as long as I know has been making jokes... you couldn't ask for a more inappropriate human being," said Howard Stern of Gottfried, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "When the Aflac people hired him to be the duck, they knew...his humor is offensive... There's no reason for him to be fired. But to be fired for offensiveness... he should never have been hired then."
Gottfried had been the voice of Aflac's mascot, a duck, in commercials since 2000. The comedian is known from his appearances on Howard Stern and several Comedy Central roasts as well as his roles in "Problem Child" and "Aladdin."
According to the Aflac statement, the company will conduct a nationwide casting call to find a new voice for their mascot.