Comedy hasn’t always been kind to Gabriel Iglesias. It got him evicted. It deported him. It even led him to play a role on Nickelodeon’s All That alongside Amanda Bynes. These days the hefty comedian has made his way up the ranks from family-friendly television to headlining gigs at The Comedy Festival and this weekend’s Saturday night show at The Pearl at The Palms.
Did you coin the term “fluffy”? If not, where did you pick it up?
I think the whole fluffy thing comes from a cat back in the ‘40s. I think that was an old saying back in the day and I just kind of rehashed that one. People would say, “Oh, I’m not fat, I’m fluffy.” My mom told me that and I just kind of took that and ran with it. It’s basically snowballed to the point where if you Google the word fluffy, my name will pop up in the top three. I think I’m behind pillows and cotton candy.
Do you think it’s OK to call a girl fluffy?
I started riding the whole fluffy train and it’s a cute word and socially a lot more acceptable than someone saying is fat or obese. If you call a girl fat, yo, she’ll raise hell, but if you say, “Aw girl, look at you, you’re fluffy,” there’s almost a sexy appeal to it.
What prompted you to add the “Oh, Hell no!” level of fatness this year?
Some guy that I met. I met this guy in Sacramento who was about 6’8” and this guy was just enormous. I mean, he was his own row. He came to my show and I’m like, “Wow.” I sell T-shirts at the shows and I pride myself on making big guys’ shirts, but I still couldn’t handle this guy. I had to do a special order for him. He was literally big and tall, a 6XL wasn’t enough; it had to be a 6XLT.
How did your family feel about you getting into comedy?
They were not too thrilled. At the time I had a really nice job working for a cell phone company in Los Angeles and I was making pretty decent money every month. My family was like, “stay with that,” but I wanted to try this comedy thing. I started getting into it more and I started burning the candle at both ends and I couldn’t handle it, so I decided I should take a chance on this. My mom especially was like, “No no! You’re going to lose your car and lose everything.” Sure enough, I wound up getting evicted and the repo guy was looking for my car. It got really bad for a while. And luckily I just stuck with it and it turned out really, really good. Now they’re like, “Oh, we knew you could do it,” but that wasn’t the case in the beginning.
You were on Nickelodeon’s All That. When did you take part in that show?
You know, I had just turned 20. I was probably the oldest cast member in the history of that show. I came on after Keenan and Kel. I was on with Amanda Bynes and Nick Cannon.
Could you see the rising stars in those actors or were you just a bunch of kids trying to break into show business?
I won’t lie, Amanda wasn’t my favorite person, but you could totally tell the talent that was there… She’s really, really good at doing presentations and being really silly and spunky. I just got mad at her because she was trying to tell me what to do on the show and I’m like, “I don’t think so; you don’t sign my check.”
Which characters have you provided voices for on Family Guy?
It was an episode I did a couple of years ago where Peter Griffin found out that he was Mexican, and he goes to Mexico to find his true roots. In that episode, I played Peter’s dad, his uncle and all the Mexicans who came out on that show. It was like six characters total and I got six different checks, which was perfect. … And I got to work along with Seth McFarlane, which was really cool. He’s really hands on with everything and you play off of him, which is really cool.
What has been your favorite voice over work to date?
Actually, the Disney stuff. I did a show called, The Emperor’s New School. It’s a very popular show with the kids. I played two characters who were twins, and the funny part was these characters were skinny, skinny, skinny twins.
I’ve seen your Eat Out (instead of TapouT) shirts, what is your favorite thing to eat when you are in Las Vegas?
I like Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant. I like the Monte Carlo, too. They have treated me really good over there. I’m a big guy, but I’m really simple with the food. I’ll hit the In-N-Out or just the regular buffets. When I go out there, it’s not so much about the eating as it is about the drinking and the gambling. Roulette is my favorite. I like playing downtown where it’s a little bit seedy. I kind of like that feel.
I know you brought your son on stage with you at The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas. He’s not your son by birth, but looks so much like you.
I know, that’s what freaks people out sometimes. When I go out I like to make him wear whatever I wear. I got to take him to see a bunch of shows while we were here in town. … He might come back because the Palms hook up these really extravagant rooms that have basketball courts and bowling alleys and stuff. That’s one of the perks of playing there.
Do you regret the decision to use your BlackBerry while taping for Last Comic Standing?
No, because people still talk about the fact that I got kicked off the show versus being a winner and you kind of get lost in the shuffle. You always remember the guy who got the boot. And I tell people I made history: I was the first Mexican to be deported off television. The cool part is I’m still with the same girl who I was texting. I got lucky.
What makes you laugh?
The people I hang out with. The comics I hang out with are always saying stupid things. My assistant is probably the funniest person I’ve ever met, but he refuses to get up on stage. His name is Ivan and this guy is hysterical. He’s always saying things that are so out there that you can’t help but laugh. He’s not a comic, but he’s like a comic’s comic. As far as guys who perform onstage, I love Chris Rock. I’m kind of jaded on everyone else.