Comedian Gabriel Iglesias has spent the past several years relentlessly touring the nation, winning over legions of dedicated fans and establishing himself as one of the hottest names in standup comedy. In 2013, Iglesias found himself sitting atop some of the entertainment industry’s most prestigious lists, with Forbes Magazine including Iglesias in its “Ones to Watch” list, and The Hollywood Reporter naming him to its “Top Five Grossing Standup Comedians.” His hard work and determination have caught the eye of many people in Hollywood, which has landed him roles in major Hollywood films such as ‘Magic Mike,’ ‘A Haunted House 2,’ ‘Planes’ and ‘The Nut Job, just to name a few. This summer, Gabriel Iglesias is tackling his most ambitious (and most side-splittingly funny) project to date — a concert film! That’s right! In July, Fluffy will be taking over the cinemas around the nation with his larger than life standup film, ‘The Fluffy Movie.’ The film captures worldwide comic phenomenon in never-before-seen footage from his sold-out “Unity Through Laughter” tour. Spanning over 23 countries, and more than 400 cities, this is the summer’s must-see big screen comedy event! There is little doubt this comedian at the top of his game will have us all rolling in the aisles! Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias to discuss his comedic roots, life in the spotlight, the challenges of bring his ambitious new concert film to the silver screen and much more!
How are you today, Gabriel? Thanks for taking time out to speak with us today!
I am doing pretty good, man! I just had three Cuban coffees and I am wired! [laughs]
Let’s get to it then! Time is of the essence! [laughs] What drew you to the world of comedy and made you pursue it professionally?
It was something I always wanted to do since I was a little kid. I loved the attention you get from comedy and the instant feedback you get from people. It is a rush, dude! I always tell people it’s a drug and very addicting. You want to be up there and will do anything to get the laughs from the people in the beginning. You want that acceptance and when they are laughing, it is a whole different level of love that you can’t put into words. It is amazing!
You have been very successful as a standup comic. Was there a moment where you said, “Ok, Now I have made it!”?
No. Even now with everything that is going on, I try to keep that from getting into my head. I feel like once I say that out loud, that is as far as I am going to get. I am afraid if I said that, I would stop having the hunger, thirst, need and want to do it. Once the trip is over, what do you work for? I never want to get to that point, so I am always going to work at it, keep producing new content, coming up with more ideas and things to do because of the love I have for it! One you say you’ve made it, you’ve said it, man! You called it quits!
A lot of the material in your act is based on things from your life. At this point, you don’t hold back too much. Was it difficult to get to that point and share yourself with the audience?
It really was because you are exposing yourself. You are showing people your flaws and that you are not perfect or messed up, if not more messed up than normal. Putting stuff out there, especially when you are including other people, doesn’t always go over that well. Having a dysfunctional family is something everyone can relate to but nobody wants to hear you talking about their dysfunctional family, so that was challenging; dealing with that. Then watching family members come and go because of it was very difficult.
How close is the guy we see on stage to the guy your friends and family know? Obviously, there are some parallels. What can you tell us about that?
There are a lot of parallels but at the same time I probably don’t bring up certain things at family functions that I would bring up on stage. The dude that is off the stage is pretty quiet. I take stuff in so I can put it up on stage. I observe whatever is going on and whatever happens to me and I take it and apply it to the stage. If I have something going on in my life that is bugging me, I will put it up on stage before I will talk to somebody one on one about it. It is funny because if you ask my girlfriend what it is like, she will tell you! She says, “I attend his shows not to laugh but to find out what is in his head!” I vent more to strangers before I vent to her! [laughs] You don’t get that judgment. You are telling strangers something; what are they going to tell you? If you tell a sister or a cousin, they are going to say “Well, what is Mom going to say? What’s Dad going to do? Have you told anybody else?” It is very different.
When you hit the stage, we get to see the finished product. What can you tell us about the process of crafting your material?
I don’t do the traditional thing where you sit down with a piece of paper and a pen to come with ideas. I tried it earlier on and it didn’t fly for me. It wasn’t natural enough and it came across that way on stage. It seemed too forced; trying to do bits and joke jokes. I think by telling real stories on stage and adding a little bit of character or personality, a sound effect or funny voice to sell the story, I think it goes over so much better. I’ve got tons of stories, so there is always content! I always have stuff to talk about and my shows change so much because of what happens day to day. I don’t rehearse anything off stage. If something happens to me, I will take it up on stage that night and tell the story. If I get laughs in certain spots, I will remember what got the laugh and what didn’t and find a way to tweak it the next night until I get the laugh or response that I want. If it just doesn’t hit, doesn’t hit, doesn’t hit, then I drop it. I give it three tries and then I move on to something else. If there is an idea or premise I am working with and it is a real story but I just need to find a way to get that last little laugh, I will hold onto and work at it until I get that piece.
You have been working at your craft for many years. What do you consider the biggest challenge of standup at this point in your career?
The biggest challenge for me right now is to get what I am doing to cross over into film. With the whole “Fluffy Movie” project, it has been a real challenge and an education, not only for myself as an artist but for the film company in trying to make sure we are both on the same page. We both want to make sure we get the word out on the film in the right way and that we both understand what the other is doing. That has really been biggest challenge.
I am sure it is interesting to learn about the other side of things. What type of preparation goes into spreading the word on the film?
As an artist, you basically have to go out and promote your project. There is at least a month long stretch of publicity and press, whether it is The Tonight Show, Chelsea Lately, doing an interview with Icon Vs. Icon or interviews for print or radio. People think “Oh, he just shows up, the movie is there and word gets out.” [laughs] If it were only that easy! I have to take it to the streets! I do it for a whole month and that is definitely a side of things people don’t often see. You are away from family and friends for an entire month because you are out on the road trying to make your project happen! That is another big challenge! I am also not a person who wakes up in the morning very easily but guess what man? You have to get up early in the morning! You can’t stay up too late and have drinks like you normally do! [laughs] You have to keep it together if you want to go out there and sell your project!
As you have gotten more popular over the years, you have spent even more time on the road. How has your approach to touring changed?
I go to sleep a lot earlier than I used to and staying in is not always a bad thing! [laughs] We crack jokes on the tour bus about that! As soon as I am done doing meet and greets or taking pictures with fans, once we get on the bus, my opening acts or people I am working with say “Ok! We have Fluffy in the box! Now let’s go out!” [laughs] Putting Fluffy in the box means putting me on the bus so I am not out getting into trouble! They want to keep me there! I have no problem with that, man! I am like “Alright, I made it to the bus. I am not going back out.” Back in the day, I was always out at clubs and all over the place. There is a lot more to do these days, so I have to keep it in check!
You have done it all from standup to movies to television. What are some of your bucket list items?
One of them of course is this comedy concert film. It is one thing to get an HBO special and there have been a lot of guys who have done those but there are very few who have done a concert film and have it be a successful concert film. I definitely want to make sure I do this right and that it does well. That is definitely one of the things on my bucket list. Eventually, down the line, I would like to get married. It isn’t going to happen right now but eventually. Really I just want to keep what I have. I want to keep doing standup and pursuing any other opportunities I get for projects, I will certainly pursue them. It’s been great, so I just want to keep doing what I have been doing!
I can’t argue with that! How do you feel you have evolved as a performer since you first started? Do you see an evolution in your work?
Oh man, absolutely! In the beginning it was just me going out on stage just trying to get a laugh. I did whatever it took. Whether it was falling on the ground, making a silly voice, doing a dirty joke or whatever else I had to do. Now, I just want people to know that, first of all, I am real. I want the stories I tell on stage to be very relatable, not just a quick laugh. I want it to be something that will be funny, not just tonight, but down the line. I think that is where my evolution as an artist lies.
What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to young creatives who might look to follow in your footsteps?
First of all, find out who you are and them make sure that when you are performing for the audience that you know who is in that audience so you can perform material they can relate to. If you can’t relate to the audience you are standing in front of, they are not going to laugh and the show is not going to go over well. As long as you can relate to them, you are going to be ok! Also, if you are new, work clean. Don’t cuss. Once people know who you are and will pay money to see you, then you can do whatever you want to to do. Until then, make sure you are a good boy or a good girl and go out there and be as relatable as possible! Stay away from anything topical because you don’t have enough time to work on it. If it is something that just happened in the news and you are trying to make fun of it, it can be difficult. That is good if you are a ‘Tonight Show’ type of guy and you are doing a regular monologue. If you want to have longevity, you have to do material that is going to be around for awhile.
Thanks so much for your time today, Gabriel. We can’t want to see “The Fluffy Movie” and are excited to spread the word!
Thank you, Jason. I really appreciate it! Talk to you soon!
‘The Fluffy Movie’ hits theaters on July 11th. Be sure to swing by Gabriel Iglesias’ official site at www.thefluffyguy.com for the latest news, appearances and tour dates!
Fluffy’s Official Instagram: http://instagram.com/fluffyguy
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.