Out of all of the celebrity interviews I’ve ever had the pleasure of going to, I don’t believe I’ve ever had as much fun as I did speaking with comedian Gabriel Iglesias. Iglesias, who also goes by his comedic identity as “Fluffy” was born 1976 in California, which is also his current place of residence. After we introduced ourselves, he talked about how he’s been up since 6 a.m. promoting for his new movie The Fluffy Movie, in theaters July 26, and how he just got to eat.
That’s when I noticed his shirt, which sported a logo of a famous autobot that I loved from a series featuring transforming robots.
“Can I just say that I love your shirt?” I told him.
“Man, I love it to,” he replied. “Even though they don’t want me to market with it. They’re like ‘You should be wearing your old shirt!’ I’m like ‘Man, come on. Really?'”
As we sat down at got ourselves comfortable, me and the other journalists at the table starting asking him questions regarding his early beginning as a comedian. Before becoming the highly-popular comedic phenomenon that he is, Iglesias worked as a salesman for a company called LA Cellular, which would later merge with a company called AT&T.
“We call them the cancer phones, the ones where you put them against your head and you can feel like you’re talking with a microwave,” Iglesias said. “Like, you could use your phone as a weapon. If you dropped your phone back then, you could throw your phone, it was fine, it was industrial, it was meant to last. Not like now, you dropped it off a table, you’re like ‘Oh shoot, there goes 800 bucks.’”
Iglesias took his chance at comedy when he went into a club late into his career as a phone salesman. He even remembered the date that he first performed: April 10th, 1997.
“There was somebody in the crowd that saw me and he goes ‘Hey, you’re funny. We got a comedy show at this nightclub next week. I’ll pay you $20,'” he said. “So after my first night performing, I already got my first paid gig.”
When I asked him about when he hit mainstream attention, when he became “Fluffy”, he corrected me, saying at how those were two different things.
“I was always known as the Fluffy guy, ever since I started,” he said. “That was always a nickname. In the beginning, people wouldn’t remember ‘Gabriel Iglesias.’ After the show, it’s ‘Hey, good job Fluffy!’ I’m like ‘Ugh, come on man, half of my name is already famous, work with me!’ I would be like, really?”
Iglesias said his career took off once he learned to use the name “Fluffy”.
“I just started embracing it so much that I started marketing it,” he said. “Now its to the point where years later, if you type ‘Fluffy’ in Google or Bing, I’d beat everything. I’m number one. I’d beat out bunnies, cotton candy, quilts, you name it. It works for me, and I’d rather people call me Fluffy than mess with my name. It’s one word, like ‘Cher.’ If I dropped Gabriel Iglesias all together and I just started going by Fluffy tomorrow, people would totally take it.”
Iglesias said that the key to his success has been through networking. That networking has been the key to everything.
“I know a lot of funny guys, guys that are hysterical, that will floor you, leave you bent over just laughing hard, but you know what? They’re really bad at returning phone calls,” Iglesias said. “They’re bad at social networks, they’re really bad at just dealing with people one-on-one, and you know, just negotiating and simple basic things that they’re crippled with, but they’re talented on stage. So someone like that, they need really good management, someone that’s going to be patient with them, somebody that’s going to understand them and speak on their behalf.”
After a journalist mentioned how Iglesias manages all of his own social media, Iglesias said handling it himself has been a big deal to him.
“I don’t want someone speaking on my behalf that’s going to say something I don’t want to say,” he said. “You can tell it’s me that writes the stuff because the grammar is so f—– up. I write everything with an ‘r’ instead of ‘a-r-e’, or a number two instead of ‘to’, I still don’t know how to spell ‘there’ the right way. I always jack that one up, people always correct me, and I’m like ‘Really? Why’d you got to correct me? You let the number two fly, you let the letter U fly, you let everything else fly,’ but I use ‘there’ the wrong way, and I spell ‘there’ instead t-h-i, uh, whatever. It’s so messed up.”
Man, my copy desk chief would be having a fit.
After talking about a time when he was drunk and cussed out his management team on a comedy club stage, Iglesias was asked if he felt like he got too open with his audience sometimes.
“Yeah, like right now,” he said, as the room erupted into laughs. “Probably shouldn’t have said that stuff.”
“But sometimes I do open up a little too much. But if I don’t open up to the crowd, man, I’m not even talking to you at home, I can’t vent about certain things at the house. It’s not the same. At home you get judged. On stage, people are like ‘You know what, I’m messed up like you. I get it.’ And again, at the end of the day, that’s one of the things that people can relate to, it’s like ‘Man, that guy, yeah he’s successful, but he’s still got s— going on.'”
As I conversed with him, I could tell through his speech that his audience was the thing he cared most about his career; about taking pictures with people at the airport and talking to fans as he sat down to order at the Pizza Parlor.
“Just common courtesy, a lot of basic things, they go a long way,” he said. “Any time I perform at a comedy club, talking to the staff, looking at people in the eyes, some people don’t want to just connect at all. You get off the stage, being like ‘Leave me alone,’ it’s like ‘No, why man?’ The staff, they’re the ones that are going to see people and be like ‘Hey, we saw a real funny show, you should come see him, he’s a real nice guy too.’ It goes a long way.”
Iglesias said that he tries to please everyone with his act, and when it doesn’t, he’s bothered by it.
“If somebody says a negative comment on Twitter, I take it so personal, and I care,” Iglesias said. “I care what people say and what they think, and sometimes I care a little too much to where I let it consume me. I’m learning the hard way you can’t please everybody, and that bothers me, because I just want to please everybody. I want everybody to be happy.”
After talking with Jeff Sewell, Improv Comedy Club General manager, for my Shorthorn article, I discovered that he has known comedian Gabriel Iglesias for years. He said that Iglesias hasn’t changed one bit, ever since he met him about ten years ago in Houston.
“He was totally down to earth,” Sewell said. “Everybody you talk to, everybody loves Gabriel. They never have a bad word to say about that guy.”
Iglesias said that despite some disappointments, he won’t change his act, because the Fluffy persona is what helped him sell out stadiums and arenas across the world.
“For people that don’t think I’m edgy enough, well that’s fine,” Iglesias said. “Go ahead, go enjoy whoever makes you laugh. I’ll have fun with my full house.”
To read more on Iglesias, go online at www.theshorthorn.com. My article has a whole slew of good little nuggets, including audio tidbits of some of Iglesias’ best stories that I couldn’t fit into my article.
Oh, and Gabriel also took a selfie with my cell phone.
Yeah. That happened.