Although his nickname “Fluffy” has defined him for years, stand-up comedian Gabriel Iglesias isn’t worried about losing his professional identity now that he has shed 100 pounds in an effort to combat his Type 2 diabetes. He’s more interested in staying alive.
“I’m more concerned about me being around than keeping an image,” Iglesias, 38, told me during an interview to promote his new film “The Fluffy Movie,” which hits theaters July 25. “I still got a ways to go. People keep asking, ‘What do we call you if you keep losing weight?’ I tell them, ‘Don’t worry. I’m lifting weights. Call me Buffy.’”
Aside from having to buy smaller Hawaiian shirts, Iglesias hasn’t changed much and is still one of the most popular stand-up comedians on the planet. During our interview, Iglesias talked about how “The Fluffy Movie” is the most personal stage performance he’s ever done and why he thinks dropping his nickname (and more denim shorts sizes) is critical to his future.
I’m a little disappointed you’re not wearing one of your famous Hawaiian shirts today.
Man, you know what? Those things are itchy. On stage, I’d rather rock a shirt with Transformers or something Marvel. I’ll wear a Hawaiian shirt if I’m doing something for TV or a movie. I own over 700 of those things. Chingos Hawaiian shirts!
You’ve done stand-up specials for TV before. How is “The Fluffy Movie” going to be different than what we’ve seen on Comedy Central?
I think all the other specials (2007’s “Hot and Fluffy,” 2009’s “I’m Not Fat … I’m Fluffy” and 2013’s “Aloha Fluffy”) have led up to this movie. Every time I put out a special, I put more and more personal stuff into it. This movie is going to be the icing on the cake. I’m telling people the story of how my mom and dad met and how I came to be. The material is super personal. I’m talking about my issues with Type 2 diabetes and the reason I had to start losing weight. I’m talking about having to eventually drop the “Fluffy” nickname. It could get to a point where I’m no longer a big dude. I’m talking about how my father showed up after 30 years of being gone. There’s a lot of emotion in this thing.
Was it therapeutic for you to reveal all these things?
It was extremely therapeutic because everyone thinks comics are happy. We’re not. We’re jaded. People think if you have money, it’ll fix the problems, but it creates different ones. As a comedian, especially one that works as much as I do, there is a lot of sacrifice. People don’t see that I’m away from my family 46 weeks out of the year. I miss all the birthdays and anniversaries and holidays. But getting on that stage is electric.
Does a film allow you to get a little more animated with the way you deliver your jokes?
Well, there are usually restrictions for my live shows. It’s adults only. I wanted the movie to be something everyone could enjoy. I wanted it to be family-friendly. So, no, I don’t cuss or anything like that. The only F-word in this movie is “fluffy.”
You’ve embraced that nickname for so long, but now it’s time to let go.
Yeah, this is probably going to be the last time you hear the name “Fluffy” in a title. I branded it so much that people are going to call me that no matter what. It’s in everything I’m in. If you Google the word “fluffy,” I’m the first thing that pops up. It’s me, dogs and rabbits.
People always joke about whether an overweight comedian can still be funny after they lose weight. What do you think about the idea you might lose it if you get skinny?
You know, people were saying the same thing about Jonah Hill and look what he did after he lost weight. He was nominated for two Oscars and he just had this movie “22 Jump Street” come out where he’s the lead over Channing Tatum! Can a big guy get small and still be successful? Hell yeah!
You come off as such a nice guy on stage. When, if ever, are you an asshole?
When I drink. If I’m drinking I can either be the nicest guy ever or I’m the guy you should leave alone. That’s my cross to bear. Drinking can bring out a dude that has some issues.
You were in the film “Magic Mike” back in 2012. Since the sequel is called “Magic Mike XXL,” can we assume you’ll be taking the stage alongside Channing Tatum?
It sounds like I’m going to be, right? Yeah, they’re going to make me twerk. If I twerk, I’m going to sell it hard.
Strippers and comedians both perform on a stage, so it should be an easy transition for you.
Yeah, one has a mic and one has a pole. We both put our hands around it and make the room go crazy.