Tuesday, March 15, 2011

15 MAR 11: Worst Supporting Actor

After more than 11 years of humor writing, I've learned a bit about the boundaries - what qualifies as "good taste" and what doesn't. Even in recent weeks, I've learned more about this. If you let cans of store-brand soda sit in the box for months, bad taste will be the result....

A Columbus company decided Monday one of its hired, uh, "hands" went too far over the line into bad taste. Aflac announced Gilbert Gottfried has been fired as its official voice of the duck. I'm reminded of a tribute ad in Variety magazine after Mel Blanc died - showing cartoon characters bowing their heads with a single word: "Speechless."

Aflac explained it dropped Gilbert Gottfried like a policyholder who missed too many payments because.... well, OK, Aflac didn't say that. But that's an obvious way to look at it....

But anyway: Aflac explained Gilbert Gottfried was fired because he posted jokes on his Twitter feed about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Aflac does a lot of business in Japan. So news of Gottfried's joke might have spread there like.... uh, well.... like what Aflac sells insurance against.

Gilbert Gottfried had yet to post a reply to Aflac as of Monday night. But a check of his Twitter feed (discretion strongly advised) found the tsunami jokes had been removed - as if a wave of protest had washed them all away.

Some people who follow Gilbert Gottfried on Twitter might wonder what took Aflac so long. His sense of humor is by his own admission "dirty," and not afraid to step on ethnic toes. Maybe that's why Aflac never put Gottfried's face in commercials - it would have been plastered all over civil rights protest signs.

On the other hand, I can sympathize a bit with Gilbert Gottfried. As I say, I've learned about the humor boundaries - sometimes the hard way. For instance, I tried to write "LaughLine" material in the days immediately after the 11 September attacks. It cost me one subscriber - and may explain why I didn't have that many in the first place.

But I learned from what happened almost ten years ago. Perhaps Gilbert Gottfried will learn a valuable lesson from this - that he's not Charlie Sheen, and can't gain a huge crowd by simply blurting out anything he wishes.

(Say what you will about Charlie Sheen, but I haven't read or heard a single wisecrack from him about the disaster in Japan. Of course, Sheen may be focused so intently on himself that he doesn't know it happened.)

To be fair, we should note the Aflac Duck has a Twitter feed of its own. It's much tamer stuff than what Gilbert Gottfried posts -- and one recent post brags about learning how to count from one to ten in Swahili. Such a nice example of multiculturalism, by such a white duck....

Aflac promises to conduct a "nationwide casting call" for a new duck voice. And you know, this could turn into a public relations bonanza. I can see Aflac holding auditions for all comers at NASCAR races - and perhaps finally providing the duck with a Southern accent.

BLOG SPECIAL EVENT: Seizing on this potential windfall, today we launch our own independent search for a replacement Aflac voice. I'm calling it the BIG BLOG DUCK HUNT! Only you don't have to be "vewy vewy qwiet" to join in this one....

We're looking for the best "Aflac duck" who can fill Gilbert Gottfried's shoes voice box. I must emphasize this contest is NOT endorsed by Aflac -- although I'd love to be the winner's agent, and claim a nice "finder's fee."

Here's how our Duck Hunt works: e-mail the blog with your best "Aflac" cry in the duck's voice. Please send audio clips ONLY, preferably in .mp3 format - and they cannot be longer than 15 seconds. If it takes you longer than that to say Aflac, you clearly are watching too many slow-motion sports highlights.

When we have several entries in our Duck Hunt, we'll post the audio clips online and let blog readers vote for the winner. But to keep things fair, we will NOT post the names of the contestants during the voting. We want this vote to be.... well, you know.... duck blind.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Visit "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: The first runner-up for "Worst Supporting Actor" Monday was Isaiah Crowell. The University of Georgia admitted the Carver High School football star was ineligible, because he stood in a formation with other Georgia players during a recruiting trip [7 Feb]. WTVM called it the "Missing Man Formation" - since "Isaiah 11" would be too religious a reference for a public university.

Georgia Coach Mark Richt apparently didn't think Isaiah Crowell's "stand-in" role in a football formation violated any rules. But the Southeastern Conference declared it a "game day simulation." Wow, what's next - a ban on high school recruits playing college football video games?

It turns out Isaiah Crowell technically was ineligible to play at Georgia when he committed to the Bulldogs on National Signing Day in February. But the NCAA already has reinstated him - which only proves how fast a running back Crowell is.

But Mark Richt will be punished for his moment of drama with Isaiah Crowell. The University of Georgia is barring him from phoning recruits during April. Aw, c'mon - Richt already showed how he gets around that. Remember the TV ad with the hands-free phone inside his Ford?

P.S. Instant Message to WLTZ sportscaster Jeremy Moss: I've been meaning to mention that Auburn national championship coffee mug you showed the other night. I presume it never leaves your office -- because explaining it to friends in eastern Iowa would be too difficult.

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