We didn't have much luck getting a straight answer out of Gilbert Gottfried about "Celebrity Wife Swap." When we spoke to Gilbert and his wife Dara about their experience switching households with Alan Thicke of "Growing Pains" and his wife Tanya, the comedian and voice actor with the distinctive voice started by telling us that "I think the world has been waiting for some sort of weird sexual connection between me and Alan Thicke."
Then he mentioned "the Gottfried/Thicke sex tape." (You heard us.)But the Gottfrieds did give us some insights into what it was like trading with the Thickes, who live on a large spread in Santa Barbara, California -- and who are a bit more likely to "splurge" on name-brand condiments than Gilbert is. Differing real-estate layouts (and budgets) aside, Gilbert and Dara both said they were relieved to have drawn the Thickes. "It was that or it could have been Gary Busey, which is always scary," Gilbert said.
And Gilbert knew Alan from back in the day, which helped. "Years ago, I worked with Alan Thicke. He had that show 'Thicke of the Night,' which I'm sure you must own a box set of." Before the 1983 show's extensive -- and doomed -- retooling in the middle of its only season, Gottfried served as "one of the resident cast of zanies, along with Richard Belzer" of "Homicide: LOTS" and "Law & Order: SVU." Then "TotN" got sacked, and Alan moved on to his signature TV role: Dr. Jason Seaver on "Growing Pains."
Gilbert and Alan didn't see each other until the end of their "CWS" episode; in the meantime, Alan's wife Tanya had some adjusting to do. As Gilbert described it, "She's used to throwing, like, lavish parties, and hiring people to cook, and serve, and set tables and everything. Me, I make a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and then complain, 'Why did you get Skippy or Jif when you could have gotten the store brand for cheaper?'"
For her part, Dara thought entertaining on a grander scale was fun, but "definitely a bit nerve-wracking," because Tanya is "very particular. The napkins have to be [alternating], one antique napkin and then one regular napkin, and then the napkin-holders have to alternate, you know, every other plate. Everything has to be set exactly right. The chairs have to be, like, four fingers away from the table." A big change from the Gottfried napkin drawer, populated by "some that say McDonald's on them, others that say Nathan's," Gilbert cracked.
But Dara made sure to say that, though "our lives are run very differently," it's not that one way is better. "It's just a different way of living, so it was an interesting experience." Mostly, she worried about their kids -- Lilly, 5, and Max, 3 -- and how Tanya would do with their schedule. "If she doesn't usually get up until ten o'clock in the morning, how is she gonna get up at six-thirty in the morning and get the kids ready for school, and get them to school on time. I was thinking more about the logistics."
The kids? Totally fine with it, Gilbert said -- if less than diplomatic. "They just perfectly adapted to it, is what was so weird. My son was telling his classmates, 'I have a new mommy, I don't know her name.'" (A friend's mom promptly texted Dara about what her son was saying, and Gilbert laughed that "some of the teachers were already calling up Child Services.")
Go back in time with Gilbert and "Saturday Night Live":
Gilbert made a call of his own -- a prank call of sorts, to Alan. He tortured Tanya with his impersonation of her husband all week long ("I'm not exactly known for going, 'Hey, I'll just hit once with the joke and move on,'" Gilbert explained, adding that he did finally get Tanya to admit his rendition of the "Thicke of the Night" theme song sounded like her husband, who sang the original). Then he took it to the source, calling Alan himself "with [Letterman bandleader] Paul Shaffer on piano -- me, Richard [Belzer], and Paul called Alan Thicke and sang the theme song to him."
And how'd that go? "I don't think he realizes the joke behind it. I think he still thinks it's a great song."
Do the Thickes have enough of a sense of humor about themselves -- and the vagaries of late-night -- to survive the "Wife Swap" process? Can Tanya talk Gilbert into full-price peanut butter? Will Kirk Cameron make a surprise appearance? We're guessing no on all three, but until the episode airs, let's spin theories in the comments.
"Celebrity Wife Swap" airs Tuesdays at 8 PM on ABC.