NEW YORK - Comedian Gilbert Gottfried apologized on Tuesday for a series of jokes made on Twitter about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, comments which got him fired as the voice of insurer Aflac.
I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my attempt at humor regarding the tragedy in Japan. I meant no disrespect, and my thoughts are with the victims and their families, Gottfried said in a statement.
Since 2000, the comedian had been the voice of the quacking duck in Aflac's commercials, shouting Af-LAC! at opportune moments.
But the company was quick to dismiss him after a dozen jokes made on his Twitter account last weekend, many of them crude and sexual riffs on the effects of the Japanese disaster.
Aflac made its name selling cancer expense policies in Japan in the 1970s and still derives about three-quarters of its revenue there.
(Reporting by Ben Berkowitz, editing by Dave Zimmerman)