Q&A: Gabriel Iglesias, "The Fluffy Movie"
Gabriel Iglesias, better known as “Fluffy”, has been a longtime presence on Comedy Central. However, he has recently expanded to the big screen with a role in “Magic Mike” and a voice role in “Disney’s Planes”. Now, Fluffy is getting the big screen all to himself with “The Fluffy Movie,” a full feature film of all new stand-up material.
The Eagle’s Tam Sackman sat down with Iglesias and discussed his stand-up career, his first film and why he won’t talk about sports on stage.
Eagle: Do you prefer stand-up, straight acting or voicework and why?
Gabriel Iglesias: Stand-up. First love. I can always go to it. I’m in full control. That’s the main reason. With acting, there’s a lot of people yelling at you, telling you what to do [and] what you can’t do in movies. Even voiceover work. I like voiceover work, but still it’s a lot of direction you have to take. Stand-up, I go out there, it’s just the crowd and me. If they’re laughing, they agree. If they don’t laugh, I gotta do something to make them laugh. I always know if I’m doing good or doing bad, it’s instant feedback. For me, it’s just what I’ve always done what I always want to do. Acting is bonus. Voiceover work is bonus. But comedy is number one. Even now.
E: What’s something that fans will learn about you in “The Fluffy Movie” that they may have not known otherwise?
GI: There’s about a six-minute film upfront that tells the story of how my mom and my dad met and how I came to be. So I’ve always told that story in interviews or stuff like that, but it was never something that made it to the stage. So I thought that by doing this little mini-film, it kind of pays a little homage to my mom, who is no longer with us, and to my dad and just tells the story of how I came to be. A little shoutout to them.
And then also in this film I get very personal in that I talk about some of the issues that I’ve been dealing with, like the fact that I have diabetes and I’ve had to lose 100 pounds, the issues that are going on with my son right now and how my father showed up after 30 years of being M.I.A. basically and then shows up out of nowhere… so there’s a lot of stuff in here that gets really real. It’s not all just “ha ha ha,” there’s a couple of really tense moments in the show. And the end has a nice little twist.
E: How hard is it to transition from stand-up to other mediums like straight acting and voicework?
GI: Voiceover work is very easy. As a matter of fact, it’s easier than stand-up. When I show up to do a voiceover, for example when I did “Disney’s Planes,” I walk in a room, they hand me an omelette…which sounds weird but they want to make sure you’re happy so they feed you. They give you a little menu— “what would you like to eat?”— it was at Disney Studios and they had a great kitchen. So they hook me up with food first, then they play a little clip for me of kind of the idea of what they want me to do… so I’m basically eating, watching this clip and then I walk into the sound room, put on headphones and pull out the script and we just start going. I knocked out the movie in two days. So to do a whole film in two days, playing two characters I was like “okay, this is cool, I can do this.” Very easy.
And then so any of the other stuff that I did— we’ve got a movie called “Book of Life” coming out later this year, Guillermo Del Toro does the film and again— that just took a couple of days, and I’ve gone back to add a couple of extra lines here and there, but the chunk of the film was done in a short period of time. So it’s easy, I like it, it’s so much fun.
E: How did you first break into stand-up?
GI: First time I got up on stage I was 10 years old. I had seen a special called “Eddie Murphy Raw”, which was the second or maybe third stand-up comedy film ever done. I was inspired by it. I saw Eddie Murphy and I thought, ‘I want to do that.’ A couple of weeks later, I was at a school talent show…obviously I’m not cursing at a school talent show…but I was mimicking Eddie Murphy’s style. I like doing impressions and voices and stuff like that. It went over very well. For me, I wasn’t sure exactly how the crowd was supposed to react because I had seen another guy who was an impressionist named Rich Little from way back in the day. This was a guy who was always at presidential functions doing impressions of the president or Johnny Carson and stuff like that. Whenever he’d do an impression, he wouldn’t get laughs, he’d get applause. So when I was a kid I was going out there on that stage, I was expecting applause. But instead, I got laughs and that messed me up. I was like, ‘Wait…they’re supposed to clap…and they’re laughing…okay, here goes my next one…and they’re laughing again…’ and I’m like, ‘Wait…is this how it’s supposed to go?’ And by the fourth one, I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m doing something right here.’ So that’s where I first got the bug. I didn’t end up going on stage again until April 10. 1997. A buddy of mine pushed me up on stage and we just got the ball rolling again.
E: What can a feature film do that a TV special can’t?
GI: Being a put in a film is putting you into such a bigger box, as far as how the public and everyone views you. If I ever want to do anything else down the line with movies and stuff like that, then I’ll be considered in the movie box, more than ‘oh, that’s just the guy who does shows on cable TV.’ So it’s just playing on a bigger field. It’s like a baseball game. You’ve got the minors and you’ve got the majors. Doesn’t mean that those guys aren’t throwing those pitches any slower or they’re not hitting as hard, [it] just means that they’re on a different playing field. To be considered as one of the guys that belongs in the bigger box that’s ultimately why you want to do it.
And I like the fact that with the film it’s not interrupted. If you watch my specials on Comedy Central, you’re going to see a commercial every 11 minutes. Here, you come in and it’s very close to being at the concert. And you’ve got a front row seat because it’s so visual and the laughs hit the same way. I attended a screening of the movie, and I’m sitting in the back of the room and people don’t know that I’m there. Every single joke that I’m doing that hits live, hits just as hard in the movie theater. Everything hits the same. The laughs come at the same time, the applause would come just like they’re there, which is really cool. And it’s scary. It’s like, ‘Oh man, how do you clone yourself and put yourself up there?’ It’s like ‘oh look at that! That guy’s getting the laughs that I get!’ So that’s pretty cool, you know, how can you put your face out there more? And by doing a movie, that’s what you’re doing.
E: So you’ve mentioned Eddie Murphy as being one the reasons you first got up on stage. Who else has inspired you comedy-wise throughout your career?
GI: Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams, a bit of Billy Crystal. That’s pretty much it growing up…a little Paul Rodriguez. I really don’t watch too many comedians now. I don’t want to get a feel like, ‘oh maybe I’m going to try doing that or doing this,’ when I’m going to try to do my own thing. There are comedians that I do watch for the fact that they do completely the opposite of what I’m trying to do, which I appreciate. So I like really dirty comics, really political comics. I like comedians that use props. For example, I’m a really big fan of Jeff Dunham. I love Jeff Dunham [and] the way he’s managed to take something that a lot of people thought was kind of a lost art and turn it into this humongous thing. He’s the biggest guy in the world when it comes to doing those comedy shows. Kevin Hart does amazing numbers, but he cannot touch the frickin’ puppets. I’m not supposed to call them puppets… I think he calls them dolls or something so I don’t want to piss him off.
I’m fans of people who do things I don’t do. I love political humor because I won’t touch it. So I’ll watch Bill Maher, Dennis Miller, Louis Black… because it’s funny to me. I don’t want do political humor because I don’t want to divide the room in half. Anytime you make a statement, somebody in the room is not going to agree with it. If I’m going by “Unity Through Laughter”, I don’t want to separate them. So stay away from politics, stay away from religion, and don’t talk about sports. Those three things right there. All three will kill a crowd.
“The Fluffy Movie” is in theaters across America July 25th.