Comedian Gabriel Iglesias says “it’s everything” to him to perform again after a year-long COVID-19 hiatus.
He hits the stage at the Footprint Center, formerly Phoenix Suns Arena, on Thursday, November 11.
“I’ve been doing this for almost 25 years, and I’ve started getting into a routine where it becomes so normal that you forget how special it is until it gets taken away,” says Iglesias, who is nicknamed “Fluffy.”
“I could basically do this anytime I wanted to anywhere I wanted to and then it gets taken away to where I can’t even go to the other side of the planet to do it were as that has always been the option. My favorite thing in life got taken away from me for over a year so the fact that I can do it again is like wow.”
Iglesias has a number of comedy specials: 2007’s “Gabriel Iglesias: Hot and Fluffy;” 2009’s “Gabriel Iglesias: I’m Not Fat…I’m Fluffy” and his Netflix show “Mr. Iglesias.” He has lent his voice to a variety of movies, including “The Nut Job,” “The Book of Life” and “Ferdinand.”
Iglesias’ current tour is dubbed “Beyond the Fluffy World Tour-Go Big Or Go Home,” and he does just that.
“We’ve got four semitrucks and four tour buses,” Iglesias says. “It is honestly the biggest comedy tour that has ever happened, and I made it a point to (do it that way).
“I’ve got the receipts to prove it. It’s stupid, it’s so stupid. It’s like WWE meets the Food Network.”
He says it is probably “bigger than 80% of the rock band tours” fully embracing the “go big or go home” mantra. Iglesias made it a point to bring along his family, friends and even his dogs for the tour.
“The bed on the bus is super comfortable and I have this amazing pillow that I bought from the Sleep Number store,” Iglesias says. “It cost a fortune for the stupid pillow but it’s so comfortable. Believe it or not, I would rather sleep on the bus than in a hotel.”
Iglesias’ style is observational yet self-deprecating, with satire and physical comedy thrown in.
On this current tour, he jokes about “things that frustrate me in life. It’s all based on issues and struggles because the audience doesn’t want to hear about you having a great day. They don’t want to hear about how well everything is going for you. They want to hear about what you have gotten into — it’s like gossip.”
Iglesias is aware that the entertainment industry has shifted with politically driven forces regulating comedians’ content.
“I used to say (my favorite thing about performing) was to go up there and say and do anything that I want but clearly that is not the case anymore,” Iglesias says.
He said that “it’s a little challenging” to determine what can be said on stage and what will end his career.
“I don’t go up there trying to be divisive or preachy or whatever, but it’s at the point now where I am feeling it,” Iglesias says. “For a comic who tries not to be divisive is feeling the effects of cancel culture, ehhh.
“It does feel new again believe it or not but that is actually pretty exciting to see how we are going to navigate this tonight. Let’s see how we are going to share some stories but still be safe.”
Iglesias brings to the stage a variety of voices to emulate different characters. It’s hard now because “the rules have changed for entertainers especially comedians.”
“We (comedians) used to be able to just go up there and work and figure things out and if we made a mistake then we could apologize then and there and just try again the next day and figure it out until we got it right,” Iglesias says. “Whereas now if you have one bad show that could be your show.”
For Iglesias, Arizona shows are meaningful.
“Arizona is actually the first place that I went to perform on the road,” Iglesias said who grew up in Southern California. “My first time on the road was in Tucson.
“It was this bar like a really nasty hole in the wall called Bugsy’s. It was July 1997, first time on the road.”
Iglesias vividly remembers subsequent performances in Arizona during the middle of summer. A venue’s AC unit stopped working once, but he forged on — with additional bottles of water.
What the future holds
Iglesias was set to record his third Netflix special during the summer, but plans were halted when he contracted COVID-19.
“The original plan was to do (the recorded show in) San Antonio,” Iglesias explains.
“We were trying to do a residency because fresh off of COVID I hadn’t performed in over a year so I needed to get warmed up before I recorded again. I figured 30 shows in 30 days and we were going to record on the last day.”
The 27th day — also his 45th birthday — Iglesias tested positive for COVID-19 and had to cancel the remaining shows and go home.
“I have not been able to record the special yet but since then so many other things have happened,” he says.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword because it’s good that I have new stuff to talk. It’s bad because I had a very big bill I had to pay for canceling.”
He plans to record the special “soon,” without giving a specific date. Four or five months later, the show will appear on Netflix.
Outside of comedy shows, Iglesias recently launched the Netflix show “Maya and the Three,” for which he voiced Picchu, a Golden Mountain Barbarian.
“I have a project that I’m working on with Jorge Gutiérrez, who is actually the one who did ‘Maya and the Three’ (and ‘The Book of Life’),” Iglesias says about an upcoming project.
“The two of us are working together on a project called ‘I Chihuahua.’ It’s something that we are working on to do for Netflix in the near future.”
Outside of Netflix, Iglesias is “really big on social media” personally running his accounts.
“You can tell by the bad spelling or the weird messages that I post,” Iglesias said. “I like TikTok videos so if anyone can send me cool TikTok videos I always love to do duets and stuff.”
Gabriel Iglesias: “Beyond The Fluffy World Tour – Go Big Or Go Home”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, November 11
Where: Footprint Center, formerly Phoenix Suns Arena, 201 E. Jefferson Street, Phoenix