Gilbert Gnarley sketches involve phone calls to various businesses, organizations, and corporate headquarters, during which it becomes evident that Gilbert is very confused about something. Those who answer the calls may not initially realize that he is confused, but once they discover the source of his confusion, their reactions range from heartfelt compassion to annoyance to fits of laughter, all of which are used for comedic value. Traits of his calls include always spelling his last name for his listener — "Hello, my name is Gilbert Gnarley, G-N-A-R-L-E-Y..." — and never saying "goodbye" at the end of the call, instead saying "Okay? Okay?" repeatedly, inducing the individual to respond either with an affirming "okay" or to hang up.
Gilbert is an elderly resident of the St. Pia Zadora Golden Buckeye Retirement Community in Pisgah, a community outside Cincinnati, where he lives with his dog, the Amazing Crepso. He was married to his wife, Iona Gnarley, for 35 years before, reportedly, she was killed by a falling crate of life rafts. [In one bit, Gilbert's wife's name was Euletta Gnarley.] Gilbert's room mate is named Myron Flats, and has a malicious sense of humor and a flatulence problem. On 21 December 2007, Gnarley was taken out of retirement and received a call from Myron Flatts, F-L-A-T-T-S from the Pisgah Decency League while working at Toys 'R' Us... Never to be heard from again.