To those who are mentally bruised and battered after this mercifully just completed election season, we have your antidote: Fluffy is coming to town.
“The difference between a comedian and a politician is that comedians are funny on purpose,” Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias joked. “Sports, religion and politics are the three subjects that can very quickly divide an audience so I avoid them. There are so many other things to talk about!”
The Southern California funnyman brings his refreshingly politics-free “Fluffy Breaks Even” comedy tour to the Reno Events Center on Saturday.
A Renaissance man
Iglesias has been hard at it for 20 years. He’s gone from traveling alone and playing biker bars to commanding a full touring production crew and selling out Madison Square Garden. The comedian’s character and sound effects skills have made him an in-demand voice talent for animated features such as “Norm of the North,” “The Book of Life,” “The Nut Job” and Disney’s “Planes.” His live-action acting chops were showcased most recently opposite Channing Tatum in Warner Bros.’ “Magic Mike XXL.” His TV stand-up special “Aloha Fluffy” was seen by 15 million viewers. His home DVD concert films “I’m Not Fat … I’m Fluffy,” and “Hot and Fluffy” have sold more than 2 million copies combined. His television show “Fluffy Breaks Even” was recently picked up by cable network Fuse for a third season. He has taken his act to every state in the union and around the world, with sellout shows in Asia, the Middle East, Australia and Europe. And after all those miles and all that success, Iglesias shows no signs of pulling back.
“Yes, I would say I am in constant motion and there is always a show or a meeting or a voice-over or shooting a TV show for me to do,” he said. “I rarely vacation!”
The venues have changed, and so, too, has the ease of travel, but 40-year-old Iglesias’ focus is, as always, on the work.
“I keep myself grounded by remembering that it could all go away at any time,” he said. “I once spent time living on the porch of a family member's home. That keeps you humble and remembering where you’ve come from.”
He’ll be playing to 7,500 in Reno, but Iglesias still appears regularly at modest-sized comedy clubs around the country.
“It's a little tougher to connect in a larger room, for sure,” he said. “But I’ll always keep performing at clubs here and there, because that is a good setting to run new material and there is an intimacy there.”
To the few who may be unfamiliar with Iglesias’ work, his comedy is based less on jokes and one-liners than on character-driven storytelling, impersonations, voices and sound effects. Do fans expect him to break into these characters when he’s spotted in public?
“I don't think so,” he said. “Sometimes, I will be in my car or crossing the street and people will yell out ‘Fluffy!’ at me. They don't necessarily expect me to do a voice in that moment. These days, all they want is a selfie.”
Iglesias’ affable openness and crowd-pleasing material is a savvy blend of observational anecdotes and self-deprecating pokes at his own foibles, primarily his ample waistline. It’s perhaps this everyman, non-topical bent that allows him to cross so many international datelines with only minimal adjustments to his act.
“I’m always surprised to see how my comedy translates in different countries,” he said. “There is always a little hesitation and nervousness when I perform somewhere internationally for the first time. I’ve always been surprised that my material goes over in places like the Middle East, India or Australia. It’s very humbling to know that the material I perform in the U.S. gets laughs in Singapore. It means that I’m doing something right.”
He’s doing something right indeed. His Twitter feed has nearly a million followers, and his Facebook page has been “liked” by 8.8 million users. It’s a long way from playing biker bars for $50 paydays.
And the career he’s built with 20 years of sweat and roadwork seems to have reached a critical mass. He may be approaching “King of All Media” status (with apologies to Howard Stern) with his distinctive comedic talents showing up increasingly online, in television, film, on stage and in the home DVD market.
He recently filmed his sixth comedy special, “I’m Sorry for What I Said When I was Hungry,” in front of 20,000 fans at the Allstate Arena in Chicago. It is set to be released as a Netflix Original on Dec. 20.
Iglesias will reprise his role of “Jimmy” in the upcoming “The Nut Job 2” along with co-stars Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph and Katherine Heigl. He will also be voicing the character “Jokey” in the 2017 Sony animated film, “Smurfs: Lost Village.” On top of all this, his touring schedule will continue to be filled with sold-out clubs, theaters and arenas, both in the U.S. and abroad. The man clearly refuses to sit still.
And that face — with his close-cropped hair, recognizable grin and puppy dog eyes — is an image that ad firms endeavor to replicate: a bankable, appealing -- dare I say iconic -- brand. And Iglesias isn’t about to change things now. He’s sticking to what got him this far.
“Expect a fun show with stories about my family and my friends,” he said. “Come to laugh and forget about the rough day you may have had.”