Gilbert Gottfried Made His Feelings About Will Smith's Oscars Slap Clear

On April 12, Gilbert Gottfried's family announced the beloved comedian died due to a long-term illness. The unexpected news of Gottfried's death has caused an emotional response from his friends and fans on social media.

During the course of a more than 50-year career, Gottfried gained notoriety on shows like "Saturday Night Live" and "The Cosby Show." Along the way, Gottfried became well-known in the comedy community as both a stellar live performer and a hilarious character actor. The "Aladdin" voice actor began his stand-up career when he was only 15 years old by performing in comedy clubs in New York City, per his IMDb.

It is safe to say that Gottfried had a strong reputation among his peers as a professional comedian and performer. So when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards for telling a joke about Will's wife Jada Pinkett Smith, Gottfried certainly had an opinion on the situation (just like the entirety of the world seemingly did).

Gilbert Gottfried stood by his longtime friend, Chris Rock

Just two weeks before his death, Gilbert Gottfried showed his support for fellow comedian Chris Rock during the Will Smith slap controversy. While some celebrities — like Tiffany Haddish — took Will's side in the argument, Gottfried took to his Twitter account to stand up for Rock in the public discourse. Under an old photo of the smiling pair, Gottfried wrote, "Which is the worst crime? Chris Rock being physically assaulted or Chris Rock telling a joke?" 

Chris Rock hasn't addressed Gottfried's tragic death as of this writing, but to be fair, he has been relatively quiet and low key since the Oscars incident. "I'm still processing what happened," Rock candidly admitted at his first comedy show after the slap, according to CNN. "So at some point I'll talk about that s**t." Fair enough.

Although Rock has been relatively mum overall, Gottfried was very vocal about his feelings on the Oscars scuffle before his death, even giving an interview on the subject. Of course, he even threw in a few on-brand jokes for good measure.

Gilbert Gottfried couldn't resist joking about The Slap

Gilbert Gottfried made it seem like he had a bone to pick with Will Smith when he was interviewed by the Associated Press shortly after the slap heard around the world, repeating his initial tweet's take. "He [Rock] made a joke," Gottfried concluded. 

After Gottfried's death, the Associated Press revealed in that same interview the comic also joked about sporting protective gear the next time he goes on stage in case anyone decides to get physical. He quipped that before The Slap, his biggest concern was wearing a mask on stage, adding, "Now I have to worry about wearing a football helmet." Although Gottfried made light of the situation, many comics had strong words to condemn the violence, saying Rock has the right to tell jokes without being worried about physical repercussions. "He [Smith] should have been [arrested]," Jim Carrey argued to Gayle King. 

Gottfried doubled down on his #TeamChris stance (albeit jokingly) when he ended his statement with a message directly addressed to Smith. "If Will Smith is reading this, dear God, please don't come to my shows," he said.

Gilbert Gottfried said fans had become too sensitive

People are still divided about whether Chris Rock's joke at the 2022 Oscars was below the belt or not, but it wouldn't be surprising if Gilbert Gottfried found it harmless. The comedian was known for pushing the envelope, after all — and he had grown tired of people complaining abut it.

"It's as if the whole world is your wife," he told New York Post in March 2021, which is ironic considering what happened one year later. "You apologize 24 hours a day, whether you did something wrong or not." He added, "I've told bad taste jokes when I'm on stage and I continue to. So if there was something funny for me to say about COVID, I would say it." He also made a joke about so-called cancel culture, riffing, "Nowadays, I enjoy watching other people getting in trouble. I like to sit back, relax and see somebody else being destroyed by the public."

Gottfried appeared to still hold this sentiment shortly before his death, citing a famous quote by fellow funnyman George Carlin when asked about Smith versus Rock. "It's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately," he told the Associated Press. That quote alone explains his decision to be on #TeamChris.