“Promoters tell me it’s a new tour, but I haven’t stopped the old one,” said comedian Gabriel Iglesias in a recent interview to promote his two-night appearance at the Arlington Theatre this weekend. “It’s hard for me to take time off because I get rusty really quick. It’s like working out; you stop for a couple weeks, and some of the fat comes back, so you gotta constantly do it.”
Iglesias is one of the hardest-working stand-up comics on the circuit today (he’s on the road 46 weeks of the year) — and one of the most approachable. “I’m very good with people,” he said. “I like talking to people; I like hanging out with people. There are some comics that aren’t exactly people-friendly. That’s one thing I’ve always made myself: accessible and approachable. I think that’s one of the reasons why people come out to the shows, because they can relate, you know, ‘He’s one of us.’”
Despite his ease onstage, Iglesias was a shy kid who spent a lot of time in his room. “I was very serious and very quiet. I came out of my shell right around 10, 11 for a little bit, then I went back in that shell and came out again at 18,” he said. His childhood timidity, however, provided the space to hone a talent that would later be one of his trademarks — creating sound effects. “That was just me being alone in a room and not having any toys,” he said, laughing. “You start talking to yourself … and I found a way to incorporate that into my show.”
A consummate storyteller, Iglesias imbues his lively shows with witty observations and hilarious anecdotes, staying away from political or crass humor. “I don’t want the crowd leaving upset,” he explained. “I don’t want them thinking about how messed up things might be in the government. I just want them to leave smiling. That’s the goal. I don’t get political. I don’t get controversial.”
He cites Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, and Paul Rodriguez as his comedic influences and uses the stage name Fluffy (as in “I’m not fat; I’m fluffy”). He’s been in movies (Magic Mike) and on TV (Family Guy) but doesn’t see himself moving into those media. “That was nerve-wracking,” he said of working on Mike. “When you’re on a movie set, it’s easy to get fired for asking the wrong questions or bothering an actor or bothering a director, and I was dealing with some really big names. … I liked it because it was different and it’s cool to say you did it, [but] I consider that work, versus stand-up.”
And work, he said, is what he’s trying to avoid. “I want to go out there and make people laugh and get instant feedback and then go have a drink and wind up at IHOP at 2 in the morning.”
Gabriel Iglesias appears at the Arlington Theatre on Saturday and Sunday, February 22 and 23, at 7:30 p.m. Call (805) 963-4408.