Gilbert Gottfried, the recently deceased comedian, actor, and owner of the world’s most soothing voice, is best known for roles like Aladdin’s Iago (but not that one) and for being the best guest at every live show he appeared on. But, Gottfried was also a working comedian who, having cornered the market on talking in a really grating way, took on less memorable work, too.
Like, for instance, his turn as a sadsack version of Clippy, the despised Microsoft personal assistant.
Vice highlighted a 2001 advertising campaign that saw Gottfried hired to lend his golden pipes to a character Microsoft phased out from its operating systems with the launch of Windows XP. Knowing that there was no actor better suited to the task of making Clippy audibly annoying, Gottfried played the intrusive paperclip in a series of commercials and promo appearances that sought to advertise XP by claiming it was so advanced that something like Clippy was no longer necessary.
In one ad, a Flash video entitled “Clippy Gets Clipped,” a cartoon man working on an important business project is interrupted by a Gottfried-voiced Clippy. The man explains that XP has made Clippy obsolete, forcing the mascot to spiral into terror as he imagines the acronym stands for “ex-paperclip,” and then threatens to kill him with a stapler for good measure.
Gottfried also voiced Clippy for events like the Windows XP launch, which saw his dulcet tones used as the voice of someone in a Clippy mascot suit walking around the stage while lamenting his lost job. There was also a website, now accessible through The Wayback Machine, that hosts a bunch of artifacts from the campaign, including an original Clippy song and Clippy video games. (As Vice points out, it’s also filled with reminders of what people found funny in 2001, like an “All your base are belong to us” joke presented on the sidebar with no justification for its existence.)
Considering that Gottfried could use his vocal chops to elevate the artistic power of everything from Dune’s Litany Against Fear to Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP,” it’s hard not to think that Microsoft missed an opportunity to make this talking Clippy more memorable. Surely, none of us would ever have forgotten the campaign if Clippy closed out a press conference by staring at the audience with its googly eyes and seguing a 9/11 joke into a lengthy story ending in, “The Aristocrats!”
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