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July 29, 2014

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In Las Vegas, it really is ‘Lopez Tonight,’ as he takes the stage at Mirage

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

Eva Longoria’s Padres gala at the Tropicana on Oct. 15, 2011. Guests included George Lopez, Barbara Padilla, Stefano Langone, Alex Yeminidjian and Alejandra Guzman and honorees Giselle Fernandez and Tim Leiweke.

2011 Padres Gala at Tropicana: Red Carpet

Eva Longoria's Padres gala at the Tropicana on Oct. 15, 2011. Guests included George Lopez, Barbara Padilla, Stefano Langone, Alex Yeminidjian and Alejandra Guzman and honorees Giselle Fernandez and Tim Leiweke. Launch slideshow »

2011 Padres Gala at Tropicana: Dinner

Eva Longoria's Padres gala at the Tropicana on Oct. 15, 2011. Guests included George Lopez, Barbara Padilla, Stefano Langone, Alex Yeminidjian and Alejandra Guzman and honorees Giselle Fernandez and Tim Leiweke. Launch slideshow »

2011 Padres Gala at Tropicana: After-Party

Eva Longoria and friends at Tropicana's nightclub on Oct. 15, 2011. Launch slideshow »

George Lopez talks a lot of family, and in the Las Vegas context that family is his new performance home on the Strip.

“I’ve had a great relationship with the Mirage and have already sold out two shows there, and it’s a great system and community of hotels they (MGM Resorts) have, and it’s great to be part of their family.”

Lopez is returning to a busy stand-up schedule in the aftermath of the cancellation of his TBS talk show “Lopez Tonight,” which coincided with that show’s move to midnight to allow Conan O’Brien to take the 11 p.m. spot Lopez had formerly occupied. A subsequent sag in ratings led to the cable channel’s pull of the plug, but Lopez is busier than ever, headlining tonight and Saturday as part of the Mirage’s “Aces of Comedy” series. (Hit the Mirage Web site for ticket info.)

Lopez performed at the Mirage in August, to great response, and is eager to return to the stage. Highlights from our phone conversation:

On the difference between audiences today compared to early in his career: “There is, like, an imaginary line. Before anyone knows who you are, people are not coming to see you, per se. There isn’t that immediate respect and response, you have to earn it. But when they know who you are, and they are coming specifically to see you, there’s no other way to perform. Every night is Friday night, every night is a big night, when they are coming to see you specifically. It just adds on top of it an excitement that’s greater than when you’re doing shows just to do shows.”

On the direction of his career, post-“Lopez Tonight”: “There are a lot of things to do. The talk show was great, and I’m proud of what we did. There are a lot of reasons it didn’t succeed, but the show was very diverse and inclusive, and that doesn’t exist on late night. It’s a tough business. It’s a tough job to have. I’m not sure I would wanted to have spent the rest of my career talking about other people’s careers. Spending 42 weeks a year talking about other people, they leave and come back with another movie, or another show, or another album, and you’re still there. It puts you on hold.

“In the two months that it hasn’t been on, I have been busier than ever. I just did five dates opening for Santana, and that was great, and I’m doing another HBO special. Everything good in my life has come from doing stand-up. … It’s a bittersweet thing, but I’m very happy with what I’m doing, way more relaxed, and it’s kind of given me my life back.”

On the Republican presidential candidates and his relationship with President Obama: “I saw the Republican debate (from Sands Convention Center at the Venetian last week) and, listen, not since my last wedding reception have I seen that much infighting from people in the same party. I mean, they’ve got guys putting their hands on each other. Listen, anywhere you go, in any situation, if a man puts his hands on you, you’ve got trouble. The Republican Party, when I was a kid, used to be so strong and so together. Not anymore.

“Now, Barack Obama, I know him and consider him a friend. I would not speak ill of him, ever, because I’d be afraid he’d send a drone after me. That guy has more knockouts than Floyd Mayweather. He’s put away more people in his first term than Mayweather has.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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