Thursday, July 23, 2009 | 2:33 a.m.
Over the course of history certain truths have been accepted and embraced as fact, before being relinquished when scientific evidence or technology proves them untrue and obsolete. The world, for a while, was flat.
Bloodletting cured infection.
Shoulder pads were stylish, and until this year there were five levels of fatness: big, healthy, husky, fluffy and damn!
Comedian Gabriel Iglesias says he fits into the fourth level, “fluffy,” one from the top until earlier this year when he added a sixth level of fatness to his classic joke: “Oh hell no.”
He’s stretches it out for emphasis. “Oh helllllllll no.”
“I met the man,” Iglesias explains of his decision to add level six. “He was 6’5”, 600 pounds, like 9X. He came out to the show and he picked me up.”
It’s 8 a.m. and Iglesias is teetering between fully awake and totally exhausted. He’s been up since before 5 a.m. and has spent the morning doing press for this Saturday’s show at the Pearl at the Palms, shuttling between TV and radio appearances in a black Cadillac Escalade with one of his openers for this Saturday’s show at the Pearl, Martin Moreno, Live Nation Vice President of Comedy Touring Joe Meloche and today’s driver, George the Armenian. They’ll clock six total stops before the morning wraps up.
“I usually travel with a posse,” Iglesias explains. “I roll deep. I travel like a rapper, but without the artillery. We don’t carry guns, we carry cookies.”
Now with rush hour traffic picking up and the temperature climbing, he is in the home stretch: Just two more radio segments and a quick TV interview with KTNV Channel 13 and Iglesias will be cut loose to get a much needed drink from Starbucks and an even more important nap.
“I want to get so famous that I don’t have to wake up in the morning,” he says, laughing. “It’ll probably never happen.”
It’s quiet in the back of the Escalade — a half-asleep silence that no one tries to break because the sun is still sitting low over the mountains and it’s too early for conversation.
“We’re two for two,” says Meloche, gesturing to the Palms marquee where a giant projection of the comedian in a blue Hawaiian shirt takes him well beyond the sixth level of fatness. “They’ve got you on the morning rotation.”
On July 25, Iglesias will bring his 2Hot, 2Fluffy tour inside the Palms for a one-night run at the Pearl, so today is about promotion. It’s about telling jokes and offering up sound bites on silver platters for the local media outlets that scoop them up and ship them out. And it’s about grinning, laughing and making people laugh despite very un-show-business-like hour.
By the time the Cadillac pulls into our first stop at News 3 KVBC, Iglesias and his crew are decidedly more perky. His local handler has been regaling them with stories of Tupac and Suge Knight, and despite the fact that it’s still before 6 a.m. Iglesias seems ready to put on his game face and perform.
He’s already wearing his uniform — a black T-shirt from his own line, Fluffy Shop, with white lettering that reads, “I drink Diet Coke so I can eat regular cake!”
Weight is a constant topic with Iglesias. “You can’t ignore the 600-pound gorilla in the room,” he says, and food and his size pop up regularly in his act and as such throughout the morning media onslaught. During his interview with KVBC’s Dana Wagner, Iglesias advises female viewers to date fluffy guys. “The worst thing I’m going to do is have dinner without you.”
After a few minutes of banter, Iglesias is done, but as he walks off set his white sneakers squeak loudly in the quiet studio. Wagner calls him back in front of the camera to point out the oddity.
“I think the shoes are saying, ‘Ow,’” Iglesias quips.
While early mornings aren’t Iglesias’ specialty, the Long Beach, Calif.-based comedian is a travel pro. He spends 46 weeks on the road yearly and promotional tours, like the one this morning, are nothing new. In between shows he flies home to see his long-term girlfriend and her 10-year-old son.
The Southern California native describes Long Beach as a “ghetto Santa Monica.”
“Artsy, lotta chaps,” he says laughing, as the Escalade hurls us down now bright Las Vegas streets. “We got a hell of a parade.”
Iglesias’ home life factors heavily in his PG-rated comedy routine. Friends, his girlfriend and acquaintances all pop up in his act.
“I always include my family in the show. They gotta pull their own weight,” he says.
“My humor is about me and what’s going on in my life...I don’t have the discipline to sit down and write; that’s not me...I talk about stuff like this.”
Iglesias gestures around the interior of the car.
“I could find a way to put this whole experience of being recorded all day and turn it into a two-minute piece by the time the show comes around and make it funny. So that’s my gift. That one and what I do with donuts. It’s incredible,” Iglesias laughs. “No hands.”
Iglesias leans over a microphone in the 98.5 FM KLUC studio. He’s got a miniature Vitamin Water in front of him, and, now fully awake, he is grooving slightly to the muffled sounds of Lady Gaga’s “Love Game (Disco Stick.)”
Chet Buchanan and his Morning Zoo co-hosts make small talk with the comedian and his entourage as they wait to go on air.
When the segment begins the subject ranges. They make fun of small California cities for a while; then the conversation turns to another well-known Latino comic.
“He’s a misunderstood guy and material has been around for a long time,” says Iglesias haltingly when asked whether or not Carlos Mencia steals his jokes.
Leaning against a wall of the studio, Moreno’s face says it all. He steps up to the mic: “Yea, he does.”
“He’s like family,” Buchanan protests.
“Oh,” comes Iglesias’ reply, “you’re from Honduras?”
Just a few feet down the hall, is Iglesias’ next stop: the green room for Xtreme Radio 107.5 FM’s DAM Morning Show. On the walls and stereo, Iglesias points out the signature of now deceased TapouT founder Charles “Mask” Lewis.
While it isn’t the household name that TapouT is close to becoming, Iglesias’ own Fluffy Shop clothing line is starting to do well.
“I’m a big guy, so I make stuff for guys that are big,” he says matter-of-factly. Having started out in Iglesias’ garage, the shop now boasts warehouse space as well as original designs that the comedian conceptualizes along with a graphic designer.
“We got your size!” boasts the Web site, which offers shirts ranging from medium through “Oh Hell No!!” or 6XL. A shirt that big will cost you $8 on top of the base price of $19.99. As you might guess, size crops up regularly in the T-shirts’ themes as well.
Holding up his iPhone, Iglesias clicks through photos of him modeling Fluffy Shop’s wares. Along with his pledged support for “regular cake,” Iglesias’ designs take well-known icons and inflate them for a customer that’s big and totally unashamed. Apple’s sleek logo has a few bites taken out of it. Nike’s jumping Air Jordan is replaced by a similarly posed Iglesias clutching a microphone in place of a basketball. The Raiders logo features the comedian’s visage in front of a crossed fork and spoon – the word “Oakland” replaced by “Fridge.”
Appropriately, Iglesias’ DAM Morning Show interview starts with a familiar topic: promotion. Already on our third appearance of the day, Iglesias obviously isn’t afraid to self-promote. In fact, he’s willing to try just about anything.
“You work your ass off,” says host Dave Farra.
“You seen my ass, bro?” counters Iglesias. “Trust me, it’s still there.”
From weight they transition to money, more specifically what the comedian has bought himself since the comedy thing started paying the bills. The list is pretty short: a large saltwater fish tank that he stocks with things like clown fish and eels (They don’t have names, he says. If you name them, they die) and cars. Really. Big. Cars.
“I got stupid with money,” he explains. “I had an ’88 Oldsmobile Delta. I went from a Delta to a Hummer, an H2. I’m ghetto. I was still living in an apartment. I had to park it a few blocks down the street where there are houses.”
Midway through the interview, co-host Jason “Mahoney” Gentry pulls up a picture of his friend Valerie on Facebook. She loves you, he tells Iglesias, emphasizing the groupie aspect of her devotion — tears when tickets sold out for a recent show, a willingness to make the comedian very, very happy.
Iglesias isn’t biting, though. “She’d have to fist fight my girlfriend,” he says, despite seeming genuinely flattered. Before he leaves the studio, the soft-spoken comedian calls Valerie and leaves her a very polite voicemail.
Iglesias is one of those celebrities you could pass on the street without even blinking. He’s friendly, humble and very easy going. While he has been a guest on The Tonight Show and has taped his own Comedy Central specials, Iglesias spends most of the time in the Escalade asking about the people around him, rather than talking about himself.
He wants to know about his driver’s love life or my boyfriend’s pets, and nearly every story or comment is infused with humor. Whether telling jokes or simply chatting, he is almost always making people laugh.
However, a career in stand-up is a fairly recent development for the 33-year-old.
“April 10, 1997,” Iglesias says when asked if he remembers the moment when he knew he was going to be a comedian. The then-cell phone salesman had been having a rough day. He’d been broken up with by a girl was cheating on him with a Marine, and then a friend had practically forced him onto the stage to MC a night at a local venue.
“None of it was working until I stated talking about how I was dumped,” Iglesias recalls. After revealing and making light of his less than pleasant situation, the audience responded. The same blend of self-deprecation and humor still feature prominently in Iglesias’ act.
Iglesias is back in the studio, this time with KOMP 92.3 FM. The morning is starting to catch up with him, and he’s taken to recycling jokes when the questions that come at him are less than original. We hear about his trademark fluffiness again — like a cat or a pillow, Iglesias explains. “Women love both.”
We’re in the home stretch now. The comedian is flying through an appearance on 97.1 FM The Point, chatting about avoiding hookers at the Palms (“The easiest thing is to act gay.”) and doing Dancing with the Stars (“I’ve got a bad knee, but I’d get some cortisone.”).
And like always, he isn’t afraid to get personal.
“I don’t need TMZ coming down on me and breaking up my happy home,” he laughs when asked about Vegas antics.
“I do share a lot of myself with the public, and I do put it all out there,” Iglesias explains. “When people stop me on the street or they see me with my kid or my friends, they’ll say, ‘Is that so-and-so?’ And yea, nine times out of 10 that’s exactly who I’m hanging out with.”
“I don’t have to worry about writing jokes. I just tell stories about things that have happened to me,” he says. “As long as I’m alive and I’m living and I’m experiencing different things every day, the show will always change.”
However, one aspect of it likely won’t.
“I keep it friendly. People leave, they’re happy. Nobody’s insulted; nobody leaves going, ‘You know, that guy is mad.’”
You may, however, leave with something else gnawing at you.
“When you leave, you basically want to go eat, because I talk a lot about food in my act. So when you leave, you leave hungry.”