The Japanese earthquake has claimed more than 10,000 lives so far and the unfolding nuclear disaster may take more by the time the tragedy has subsided. However, comedian Gilbert Gottfried decided to use the incident for his own purposes when he posted a series of offensive jokes on Twitter.
"Japan called me. They said 'maybe those jokes are a hit in the US, but over here, they're all sinking,'" he wrote. "Japan is really advanced. They don't go to the beach. The beach comes to them."
Gottfried was the voice of the duck on Aflac insurance's commercials and, due to his insensitive remarks, he was fired.
"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," senior vice president Michael Zuna said, People.com reports. "There is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times."
Gottfried's jokes could have lasting impact on the company as well – The Associated Press states that 75 percent of Aflac's business is done in Japan. Previously, Aflac announced that it will donate $1.2 million to the International Red Cross in order to aid Japan and CEO Daniel Amos flew to the country in a show of solidarity with the company's affected employees.
The news source reports that, while there is a talking duck in Japanese commercials, Gottfried does not provide the voice for it.
The comedian, 56, may be most distinguished by his discordant and high-pitched voice, which he has showcased in his stand-up work and his role as Iago the parrot in Disney's Aladdin series. He has also participated in Saturday Night Live and co-starred in the Problem Child movies.