Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias has taken the comedy world by storm over the last several years, and it’s likely he’s made you laugh out loud at some point along the way.
You may have seen him as one of the most memorable contestants on NBC’s Last Comic Standing back in 2006. Or, perhaps more recently in 2011 as the creator, writer and executive producer of Comedy Central’s Stand Up Revolution. In fact, Fluffy has done several stand up comedy specials that have aired on Comedy Central. He’s also been a voice actor in movies such as The Nut Job and Disney’s Planes. He even appeared in the 2012 comedy/drama/male-stripper film Magic Mike.
Iglesias was at the Mall of America earlier this month for a special advanced screening of his upcoming The Fluffy Movie — which opens Friday. Before the screening, Minnesota Connected sat down with the man they call Fluffy for a one-on-one interview about his career in comedy, his upcoming movie, and how Minnesota played a big role in his rise to stardom.
Here is some of our discussion:
MNC: You’re in the midst of a national tour right promoting The Fluffy Movie, which opens in theaters on July 25th. Tell me about it — why should people see this film?
Well, this is my fifth special, and it’s a comedy concert film. The trailer is a little misleading — it shows me going anywhere and everywhere but all of that was a build up to this one big show that happened.
The movie opens up with a story; a mini-film that shows how my parents met, how they got together and how I came to be the “Fluffy” guy, and what inspired me to become a comedian. It goes from that and then it jumps into the comedy concert where I open up a lot. In fact, this is probably the personal I’ve ever gotten about anything.
MNC: Really? What sorts of things do you talk about?
I tell the story about how I had to lose 100 lbs because of my diabetes; I put it out there that I’m diabetic and all the trouble that I’m going through with that; I’m talking about how I’m having the difficulties with my son. I’ve had him on my lap for eleven years — he is technically my step son — and everything is going great… and all of the sudden… his dad comes back into the picture, so there is a whole story behind that. Then I tell a story about how my dad came back in the picture after thirty years at the same time. So, the fact that all this is happening at the same time it’s…it’s a good story.
On a lighter note, I talk about India, and everything I discovered when I went there. I had a great adventure during the trip and I talk all about it. And, the ending, well the ending is the ending, man. I’m gonna save that one. It’s ah — there is a really good message behind it. And I’m a big fan of Marvel, so you definitely wanna sit through the credits.
MNC: Yeah, I’ve noticed that. Every time I see an interview with you, you’re wearing either a Captain America t-shirt, or something with Wolverine on it…
Oh yeah. I’m a big Marvel fan, so when they said I get to do a movie I’m like, “Alright, I need something cool to happen after the credits!”
MNC: It’s been a good few years for Marvel fans. They’ve really ramped up their movie production. It seems like they’ve got a blockbuster or two coming out every year.
Yes. And I’m a super hero fan altogether. I’m looking forward to the Superman-Batman movie. Because Marvel’s got it cornered right now, man. Marvel is killing it. DC [Comics] has to work hard to keep up.
MNC: The movie sounds like a lot of fun. Let’s talk about your influences as a comedian. I’ve heard you say that seeing Eddie Murphy’s Raw made a big impression on you, and maybe planted the seed for you waning to do stand up comedy…
Yeah. That whole story at the beginning of the The Fluffy Movie is that story about Raw. You get to see me rent the tape and everything. I cast someone to play me as a kid, cast my mom, cast my dad. It’s all there.
MNC: I’ve also hear you mention Paul Rodriguez as someone who has been very influential to you.
MNC: Are there some other comedians or performers that have shaped your style on stage? Who are some of the names of people you tried to emulate?
Robin Williams, definitely. Big fan of Robin Williams. Big fan of Eddie Murphy.I would also watch a lot of Billy Crystal, you know “You look maaarvelous”, he would do the voice and I like that voice, man. It’s cool. I didn’t watch Cosby much outside of his TV show. You know, people think I must of studied a lot of Cosby. But I didn’t start watching Cosby until later in my career.
MNC: Really? That’s interesting. I would thought Bill Cosby was a big influence on your act.
Yeah, because we’re both story tellers.
Um, who else? I’m a big fan of Ron White. Ron is friend, and he is hysterical. But early on it was just Paul Rodriguez, Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy. Those were the main ones. And, of course Billy Crystal. I was also a big fan of watching the Benny Hill Show. You remember the Benny Hill Show?
MNC: Benny Hill, huh? I remember it a little bit. Quite an eclectic mix of influences you have there…
Yeah. Well, you know Benny Hill was available all the time. Whereas Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy, you know, I’d have to wait for an HBO special and actually be at someone’ house who had HBO in order to watch that. It was before DVDs and stuff on YouTube. I mean, we could go on your phone right now and watch comedy for three days straight if we wanted to. Back then, I’d stay up late and Benny Hill would come on about 1 o’clock in the morning. You’d hear that unmistakable music… and it was Benny Hill up there cracking jokes with hot chicks, man. I was a just a kid, and it was comedy and hot chicks — I loved it.
MNC: You really worked to overcome being pigeonholed as a “Latin comic” in order to become just a comic. You’ve done that now and have widespread, mainstream appeal across all sorts of demographics. I’ve heard you discuss how that — that escape from being a “Latin comic”—is a very big deal to you. Talk a little about that.
You know it’s crazy, I’ve worked so hard just be a comic, and I go out there and I’m finally breaking that barrier. Now I’m getting this opportunity, and uh, now the Latin publications the Latin media is coming after me saying, “Hey man, you’re the first Mexican to ever get a chance to do this.” So, I’m getting that extra pressure like, “You better not mess this up. You gotta open those doors now that you got there,” you know?
It’s been a struggle. And I’ll tell you right now Minnesota was actually the turning point in regard to that.
MNC: Really? Tell me more.
My manager booked me here in Minneapolis at… I forget the name of the venue — it was at the theater on the same block where Prince filmed Purple Rain. Anyway, my first time here, the show sold out. The only brown faces were basically the guys who were on stage. Afterwards, word spread around Live Nation and AEG and all these other companies about this dude that sold out a theater in Minnesota, and how it might be worthwhile to take a look at him. That opened a lot of doors for me. A lot.
MNC: Wow. So Minnesota played a key role in your career.
Yeah, man. I was very emotional that night. After the show was over we wound up across the street at the Hard Rock, and we’re just sitting there like “Oh my God. Do you believe this?” This isn’t Texas, this isn’t Arizona — this isn’t the Southwest. This is the middle of America. Yeah man, this was the turning point. Right here in Minnesota.
MNC: Cool. Along those same lines, as far as your success gaining mainstream appeal, you’re known as a clean comic…
Clean-ish, I’d say. I wouldn’t say I’m squeaky clean, because I do cuss from time to time.
MNC: Ok, ‘clean-ish’. I’ve guess I have heard you drop an F-bomb every once in a while, but you’re generally pretty PG.
MNC: Is your clean-ish act in an attempt to be more commercially viable in the mainstream — like, you can’t do Leno if you’re telling dirty stories?
Well, I mean if I have a couple F-bombs in my set, I can always pull in four or five minutes of different material so that’s not a problem. I just think a lot of the time people don’t want to hear really blue stuff — especially at my show. Doing my comedy this way, it does definitely add more appeal and I can play to more audiences.
MNC: Makes sense.
Yeah. I don’t talk about religion. I don’t talk about politics. I don’t talk about sports…
MNC: No sports?
No. I won’t talk about how I have a favorite team. If you’re going to talk about sports, don’t claim anyone.
MNC: Because people take it too seriously, huh?
People take it waaaay too seriously. If you are going to talk sports, just don’t say which team is your team, and you’ll be okay. This one night I was in New York, and some guy asked me exactly what you just did, he said “You don’t talk about sports?” I said, “No. Watch this.” I yelled out, “Go Mets!” and from the back, someone yelled back. “Fuck the Mets! Go Yankees!” I said, “That’s why I don’t talk about sports.”
MNC: Ha. Around here, you just have to be careful not to mention the Packers in a positive light and you’ll do okay.
Right. Don’t talk about the Packers here, and don’t talk about the Vikings in Wisconsin. It’s the same situation everywhere. Sports is one of those things I don’t mess with. Religion, too. Who am I to talk to anybody about their religion? I stay out of all that.
MNC: I’ve heard you say something along those lines in other interviews, that you view yourself as only a comedian, and you are there to make people laugh, not get into controversial topics…
Yeah. Yes. Like, for example, when we were in Saudi Arabia doing shows, I took a buddy of mine named Larry Omaha. He does cruise ships. He can perform at churches. He can perform anywhere. When I took him to Saudi Arabia, after the show was over, I got pulled aside and their like, “My friend, we must talk to you.” I was thinking what’s going on — did I say something wrong? Then I remembered I slipped in my set and said “bitch.” I apologized, “I’m so sorry for saying that.” He said, “No. This is fine — you can say ‘bitch'”. This is okay. But your friend, he said ‘god’… you cannot say ‘god.'” Larry had done a joke where Michael Jackson is talking to god, and the fact he had given a voice to god was a big no-no…
MNC: Oh, right. Representations of god don’t always play real well…
Yep. “But bitch is okay”… Haha.
MNC: Haha. Alright, well I’ll let you get to the screening. Thanks for taking time to chat. And best of luck with the movie.
Thank you. It was my pleasure.
The Fluffy Movie opens in theaters nationwide this Friday. Here is the trailer.
Photos via: Brent Lee — Wikipedia — Google