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Gilbert Gottfried, Silent Film Narrator

About a month ago I went from being a fan and regular listener of Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast to being a guest on the show. Josh Mills and I were on the show’s 294th episode to talk about Ernie Kovacs. The podcast aired on SiriusXM last week, and became available for everyone else as a podcast a couple days ago.

No one gets booked on this hilarious podcast full of old showbiz and Hollywood stories because they accompany silent movies. This was all about Ernie, and Edie Adams as well, and I was going to be on the show with Josh mainly in my capacity as the archivist and ersatz historian of the Kovacs and Adams television work.

But once Gilbert and Frank discovered what else I do when I’m not helping Josh get Ernie Kovacs’ TV shows out to fans, Frank contacted me. “Do you travel with a keyboard?” They’d thought it might be fun to talk about what I did and have the keyboard on hand just in case.

Well, sure I travel with a keyboard.

Ben Model Gilbert Gottfried
Left to right: Ben Model, Gilbert Gottfried, Frank Santopadre, Josh Mills. When Josh posted this photo on Facebook, Frank captioned it “Worst ‘Usual Suspects’ remake cast ever”

I arrived at the SiriusXM Studios with my keyboard and laptop that runs samples, and a backpack full of cables, audio adaptors and a D.I. box. Josh was already in studio, settled in between Frank and Gilbert, when Gilbert’s wife Dara brought me in. I said hello to everyone, then the Indy 500 pit crew of audio tech guys dove in, and I unpacked the keyboard and pulled all the cords and stuff out of my backpack.

Oh yes, I’d also brought rugelach from Zabars. Did I mention that? I handed bags of the rugelach out. “You’re our favorite guest!” expostulated Gilbert. “There’s an old joke with rugelach in it. Do you know it?”

Okay, I’m straddling connecting cables, discussing impedance and gain with the audio guys, and processing that this conversation is not coming over earbuds or a car stereo but instead is actual Gilbert three feet way talking to me. I tell him I don’t know the joke — I have a very weak score when it comes to “reading comprehension” and old jokes, for some reason – and tell him so.

“Stop me if you’ve heard this…” I get the audio people to hold up a sec so I can hear and absorb this. You may know this joke, or a version of it, but it was new to me. I’ll do what I can to retell the joke Gilbert told me here:

“An old Jewish man is on his death bed, and his grandson comes to visit him. ‘Grandpa, is there anything you want, is there anything I can get you?’ he says. The old man says ‘Yes, I want you to go downstairs, go into the kitchen and get me a nice piece of rugelach and bring it, so I should taste a delicious piece rugelach at the end of my life.’ The boy goes downstairs and comes back five minutes later with nothing. The Grandfather says to the boy ‘What happened to the rugelach?’ and the boy says, ‘Grandma says she’s saving it for the shiva.’”

The other fun thing that happened was that, during the episode we taped, which was mostly about Ernie Kovacs, Gilbert turned to me and just started describing a moment in a made-up silent film, and asked me to play it, and I did. Usually when I do this kind of silent movie music demo, that’s as far as it gets. Or the person will ask me to play some thing scary, then something romantic, and then a chase, etc.

Instead, and this is probably because I was working with a comedian, before I finished the musical phrase, Gilbert continued the scene “…and then…” which I then shifted to, and he went through an entire mini-scenario, with me locking eye contact so the comedy synapses between us stayed in synch, keeping up with whatever he threw at with me. It was hilarious! And we did a few more of these during the show.

I’ll leave you to listen the show now, with all its tales of Kovacs, Edie Adams, Josh Mills’ encounters with Herve Villechaise and Sylvester Stallone, and my “Fractured Flickers” bits with Gilbert Gottfried.

Episode #294 of Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast is embedded below, but it’s also on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and loads of other platforms. NOTE: there’s explicit language and NSFW content, as there always is on GGACP. Just wanted to mention in case you only know Gilbert from Aladdin and Cyberchase.

I hope you’ll consider signing up for my email list. I’ll only be in your inbox a couple times a month, with info about my shows and insights about what I’m working on. Plus, when you confirm your sign-up, you get to watch a rare silent comedy!

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