Gabriel Iglesias – 'I'm not smart enough to talk about politics but I am smart enough to sidestep it'
- Brian Donaldson
- 21 June 2017
Californian comic adds an extra London date to the UK leg of his globetrotting FluffyMania tour, and talks exclusively to The List
In 2016, Gabriel Iglesias was confirmed as the eighth highest-earning comedian in the world. Not a bad job for someone born into relative poverty in California's Long Beach. As his show FluffyMania comes to UK shores, he tells us about appearing in Magic Mike, his trademark Hawaiian shirts, and why he won't go hard on the guy in the White House
You've played the UK before: what do you remember about the first time?
You know, the first time I went there, I want to say that I didn't have the greatest experience. It was promoted badly, and the venue I was in held about a thousand but there was probably 80 people in. Those 80 people got a great show, though. The promoters I have now are great, and the last time I was in Britain it went very well. Those two experiences were like night and day and now we're at the point of talking about adding shows.
With your baggy shorts and Hawaiian shirts, you have a very distinctive look: do you have any lucky shirts?
Whichever shirt fits today is the lucky shirt. My diet fluctuates, so some fit tighter than others, but no, there's no lucky shirt, there's no lucky microphone. If it goes good I take the credit for it; if it goes bad I'll take the blame.
As an American of Mexican heritage, you must have loads to say on stage about Trump...
I basically sidestep all politics because no matter what you say on stage about it, you will divide the room in half. I will point out certain things, but there aren't any big political statements. It's more fun to throw in a tiny something in there and let people fill in the blanks than try to hit them over the head: the point is to entertain people. So for this show, there will be a lot of memories about things that have happened in the 20 years of me being a stand-up. It's a kind of reflection of my career in meeting certain celebrities, having certain experiences and all that travelling. I'm not smart enough to talk about politics but I am smart enough to sidestep it.
You appeared opposite Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum in the two Magic Mike films: was being in the movies a career goal?
It was a bucket list thing to say you've been in a film with a major director like Steven Soderbergh and working with actors like Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum. It was a great experience and it's cool to have said you were on a movie set, but those are long days and to be in one city for weeks on end is not what I'm used to. Don't get me wrong, if there's a great opportunity, I'll go for it, but it's not something I'm chasing. I got into comedy to be a comedian; everything else is just icing on the cake.
How closely do you study other comedians?
I did study it early on when I became influenced by Eddie Murphy and Robin Williams but over the years I learned to find my own voice. If anything now, I look to see not so much what happens on stage but what happens off stage: how do comics handle themselves in business? How are they promoting themselves? Do they have merchandise? A lot of the time, they don't get as involved as they should, but I'm very hands on, whether it's something as simple as selecting a director for a comedy special, making sure we have a good lighting package going on, or making sure I'm there for all the edits. There are some comics who don't want to be bothered by it: they're just worried about being funny. Well, if that's as far as you're going to worry, well hey: have fun driving back to your one-bedroom apartment in your Prius.
You've now been in the comedy business for 20 years and achieved many things. What's next?
For a while I've been working 46 weeks out of the year and it's been all go. If anything, I'm trying to take the foot off the pedal a little bit and take a step back and breathe a bit. I'm going to be 41 in July and after 20 years, I've had a good run. I'm in a good place: I've done comedy, I've done film, I've done television: I've been given the chance to do everything that I'd like to do and I'd like to continue working, but I don't want to burn myself out.
Gabriel Iglesias UK tour dates:
Tue 26 Sep – Brighton Dome
Wed 27 Sep – Colston Hall, Bristol
Thu 28 Sep – O2 Apollo, Manchester
Fri 29 Sep – Eventim Hammersmith Apollo
Sat 30 Sep – Eventim Hammersmith Apollo
Tickets on sale for the new London date, Sat 30 Sep,10am on Fri 23 Jun.