A few weeks ago, a teenage girl was telling me how much she loved Channing Tatum. I talked about how nice he was when I interviewed him, and her eyes shot out of her head. She grabbed my arm screaming, “You were in the same room as Channing Tatum?!”
The only other time a person got close to that type of excitement was when I was with Joe Nelson, who runs SanDiegoRadio.org. I bring him to the horror movies I have to review, since he’s a fan of the genre. I told him at a screening I was going to be interviewing comedian Gabriel Iglesias. He went crazy, saying how it was his favorite comedian. He asked if I could get his autograph and I said, “Why don’t you just come with me, and you can meet him and get his signature.”
He couldn’t get out of work. So I figured I’d surprise him. More on that later.
I had 15 minutes with him at a hotel pool downtown. As I waited my turn to interview him, Scott Marks of the San Diego Reader was doing his interview. I heard Iglesias say, “Well, my mom died and…” (couldn’t hear the rest of what he said, but Scott quickly piped in)
“Yeah, I remember when I buried my mom….”
I wanted to stand up and scream, “Come on, Scott! He’s a comedian. Stop being such a downer. I don’t want Mr. Fluffy all depressed right before I interview him.”
When it was my turn to do the interview Marks warned Iglesias, “You’ll have to watch out for this guy!”
Iglesias looked a bit surprised, perhaps not sure if he was joking or not. I said, “Hey…I’m one of the few critics around that actually liked Haunted House 2!”
At least that made him laugh.
One of the hotel staff asked us if we wanted anything. He said, “Like what?”
She replied, “Coffee, water…” He smiled and held up a huge bottle of water and said, “I’m fine with this.”
He looked at me and said, “They gave me this missile of water. I should probably drink this before I get anything else.”
I replied, “Yeah, they put you up in this nice hotel and then ask you if you want anything. I’d be like ‘Yes, bring me a sandwich, a robe, a chalice filled with champagne…’
As those words left my mouth, I noticed he looked slimmer. I didn’t want to say that, because I felt like it might sound weird coming after this food conversation. Also, you never really know. Maybe TV really does add a few pounds. Maybe those Hawaiian shirts he wears make him look bigger. I found out from an interview he did with Fox 5’s Chrissy Russo, he actually lost over 100 pounds.
Josh Board: You were born in San Diego. How long did you live here?
Gabriel Iglesias: About 5 or 6 years. It was in Chula Vista. I still remember the apartments. When I was driving by, I saw they changed the Family Fun Center. It’s a Boomer’s now. I remember going in there all the time and playing Donkey Kong.
Josh Board: I always liked comedy concert films. I remember seeing the Richard Pryor one on HBO, when I was probably too young to have been watching it. I liked the Eddie Murphy ones.
Gabriel Iglesias: Yeah, I was young when I was watching the VHS of Eddie Murphy Raw. I wore that tape out. It was like my first look at what it was like to do stand-up, since I was really young.
Josh Board: I don’t recall ever seeing a stand-up movie that I didn’t like. Well…I didn’t care as much for Kevin Hart’s, but I do think he’s funny. How did your movie come about?
Gabriel Iglesias: Well, from Kevin Hart, strangely enough. The people behind his movie approached me and said they were crunching the numbers, and thought we could have similar success. They said the movies made millions, but they’re relatively cheap to film. They saw the strength of social media and YouTube and felt we were similar in all the social media aspects.
Josh Board: That must have been a thrill, especially when you think of the comedians that have had their stand-up on the big screen.
Gabriel Iglesias: It was. When you’re a comedian, the Holy Grail is an hour long HBO special. You’re happy with a show on Comedy Central. You’d even suck it up and settle for a Showtime special. The thing is…they wanted to start shooting right away, and I had just finished my second comedy special Aloha Fluffy. I needed to write all new material and there was all this pressure. I was flattered, but also didn’t want to take a big ol’ dump and disappoint everyone. You start thinking of all those comedy movies that have come out; Martin Lawrence, The Kings of Comedy…and thinking about being the first Latino to do one, and not wanting to let my people down. I was given this great opportunity.
Josh Board: When you’re writing new material, do you run things by your friends or your girlfriend?
Gabriel Iglesias: Oh no, never!
Josh Board: Because she won’t like being made fun of or certain subject matters?
Gabriel Iglesias: No, it’s because the only way you know if it’s really funny is if you try it out on stage. I’ve had times I think something is funny and ask my girlfriend and she says, “That isn’t very funny.”
Josh Board: What about asking other comedian friends?
Gabriel Iglesias: That doesn’t really work, because there are things we think is funny, that won’t always work on stage. We always have things other comedians think is funny, but not necessarily the crowd. I like the really blue material; the dirtier, the better. Jim Jefferies makes me laugh so hard I cry. But that’s not what I do.
Josh Board: Who are your favorite comedians?
Gabriel Iglesias: Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Eddie Murphy, Paul Rodriguez.
Josh Board: By now you’ve probably met all of them.
Gabriel Iglesias: Yeah, most of the comedians I admired. I am friends with Paul Rodriguez and he makes me die laughing. The time I met Robin Williams was when I was performing at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. They told me a special guest wanted to go on, and they wanted me to cut it short. I was standing there wondering who it was going to be…Chris Rock, Seinfeld. I found out it was Robin Williams. I told the crowd I was going to cut it short and they started booing. I said ‘Nah, nah…you’ll be happy when you find out why.’ They were still booing and I gave him this introduction [he does the intro holding a pretend mic]. The crowd erupted. They were just going crazy. I yelled into the microphone, ‘See! You forgot about me already!’ It was great to see him perform and meet him and chit chat afterwards. When I met Eddie Murphy, well…he wasn’t really there. It wasn’t like I got to talk to him or anything like that. I just said hi.
Josh Board: You are the type of famous person that has it the worst, because you’re so easily recognizable. In one of your routines, you talk about a cop recognizing you. You probably always have somebody yelling out, ‘Hey Fluffy’ at airports.
Gabriel Iglesias: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun.
Josh Board: Does it ever get annoying? Do you hate signing the autographs or taking pictures?
Gabriel Iglesias: No. I will always take pictures and sign autographs when I’m out. I could be in the mall, or where ever. Now, sometimes I’m with people that will give somebody a hard time if they keep bugging me.
Josh Board: What’s the weirdest autograph story you can tell me?
Gabriel Iglesias: Oh, in the bathroom. All the time. I’ll be at the urinal and arms are reaching over my shoulder, trying to hand me pieces of paper to sign. I’m standing there saying ‘Can I put my junk away first?’ I always tell them to just wait until I finish up. I’ve been sitting on the toilet and scraps of paper are slid underneath for me to sign. It’s so crazy.
Josh Board: Julia Roberts said the first autograph she ever signed was in a stall and somebody slid a piece of paper under the door. It must be harder now with cell phones and everyone wanting a photo.
Gabriel Iglesias: I don’t mind doing that. I’ll take photos with everyone. What I hate is when people want me to record things. They’ll tell me to do their outgoing message or something, and it just takes so long. I tried that, and then all the people that just got an autograph or picture…they now want me to record something. People want me to do a video for their friend or hold up their shirt.I’ll be there for 4 hours, so I finally had to say…no more phone calls or recording anything.
Josh Board: Well, that put me in an awkward position. I wanted to ask you to call my friend Joe Nelson. He’s a huge fan, and was excited about me interviewing you. I invited him to come along, but he couldn’t get out of work. Since he’s a welder, I thought you could call him up and say something about his welding, or possibly welding a lowrider for you or something. But…if you don’t feel comfortable doing that sort of thing, we don’t have to. I don’t want you to feel obligated because I put you on the spot.
Gabriel Iglesias: Well, I’ll tell you what. Instead of me calling him, I’ll record a message to him on your phone, after we finish up here. Then you can play that for him.
Josh Board: Thanks. That’s nice of you.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Magic Mike, but I liked your performance in it. It was fun to see that you could act and didn’t just have to be the wacky neighbor or something. Don’t get me wrong…you were a funny neighbor in Haunted House 2. It’s just nice to see a serious role.
Gabriel Iglesias: I was going to turn it down at first. I wasn’t sure I could do a serious role and…I didn’t want to be the Latino that was playing a drug dealer. I didn’t need to fall into doing some stereotype. But I thought…it’s Matthew McConaughey, in a Steven Soderbergh movie. I had to do it. I met so many amazing people. It was great networking and it shows I can do other things.
Josh Board: You said earlier you don’t work blue. Are there any other topics you stay away from?
Gabriel Iglesias: Oh yeah. I won’t talk about religion, politics, or sports.
Josh Board: Why not sports? That seems like a perfect topic to cover when you want to work clean.
Gabriel Iglesias: It’s because you alienate half the room. Half the crowd will be against you no matter what you say. I had a guy in New York ask me that. I said, ‘Okay, watch this.’ I went onstage and said, “Alright…what about those Yankees?’
There was some applause, but I also heard ‘Yankees suck’ and ‘The Mets!’ You can’t win. I told the crowd, ‘I just said that to prove a point.’ I looked to the side of the stage and said, ‘See? That’s why I don’t talk about sports.’
Josh Board: It must be nice that you were disqualified from the show Last Comic Standing (for smuggling in a cell phone), and now you’re the most popular comedian to come from that show.
Gabriel Iglesias: Yeah, that’s nice, but…I still would’ve liked to have been asked to come back to say hi, or do a five minute set. It kind of bothered me that the show wanted all this drama. They tried to bait is into fighting with each other, to create all this tension. I liked the other comedians, so I wasn’t going to be doing all that.
Josh Board: I understand why reality shows do that, if it’s a show like the Kardashians, because they don’t have any talent. A show about comedians living together and competing…we get to see them be funny. I wouldn’t think all that would be necessary.
Gabriel Iglesias: Me neither, but…whatever.
Josh Board: Okay, I appreciate all your time. I hope the movie is a success. Now, let’s see if we can get a message to my friend Joe.
(At this point, we pull out my cell phone).
Josh Board: I have a really old cell phone. I’m not even sure how to record a message on here.
Gabriel Iglesias: Oh man, you don’t have an ipad? I’m not even sure how to work this thing.
He takes it and tries to figure it out; after a few minutes I tell him not to worry about it. I said, “That was nice of you to say you’d do that, but…he didn’t know I was going to do it, so he won’t be disappointed.”
Maybe I’ll score Joe a pair of tickets to see The Fluffy Movie, which opens this weekend. Go out and see; and if you ever ask him for an autograph…let him finish up in the restroom first.