Daily Press (Sunday)

Iglesias puts heart in comedy show

- By Rodney Ho

Stand-up comic Gabriel Iglesias said he faced his own mortality in July when a private plane he was on slid off the runway at Western Carolina Regional Airport.

“When we got off the plane, it felt like the set of ‘Lost,’ ” Iglesias said recently. “We were lucky we came out of it alive. Then I had a show that night. We also had to get on a jet just like it the next morning.”

But Iglesias, a lifelong California­n who has leveraged his childhood nickname “Fluffy” into an enduring brand name, said he rationaliz­ed how to move forward. “I’m a man of odds,” he said. “I play Vegas. I know the statistics. The chances of another issue on a similar plane happening a day later is very slim. So I was good.”

Iglesias, who has a residency in Las Vegas involving multiple visits a year, said the Vegas crowd used to be less than ideal but his success has made the audience much more amenable.

“I used to hate the

Vegas crowds because it consisted of people who had just lost a ton of money and are there to be cheered up,” he said. “But Vegas is now a destinatio­n place and my shows there are like those anywhere else. People pay to come. These aren’t comped tickets.”

His current tour, dubbed “Don’t Worry, Be Fluffy,” is themed around the concept of being happy to be alive, he said.

“I talk about the flight and my perspectiv­e on life after it,” he said. “I’ve always been very positive and optimistic about life in general. Now that I’m closer to 50, I’ve had more things happen to me like the plane incident. I also had my house broken into. Those are not happy moments but moments in life I want to share. I try to find a positive spin on it all and find humor in messed up situations.”

He has benefited quite a bit from his stand-up specials on Netflix, which also gave him two seasons of a scripted comedy series “Mr. Iglesias.”

Netflix taped his massive stand-up show last year at

Dodger Stadium, which drew 90,000 people. “No comic had ever done something like that before there,” he said. “And this is my hometown. I kept saying if it goes well, that’s awesome but if it goes bad, at least it was a short drive.”

Iglesias has quirky tastes. He has a deep abiding love for Volkswagen­s and has collected 35 vintage vehicles. He has also gone all in on Funko collectibl­es. The bobblehead versions of himself sell like hot cakes at his concerts. “It’s the modern version of Beanie Babies,” he said.

Iglesias has been doing stand-up for more than a quarter century. He said the current show heralds the 1990s, and he took the prep work seriously, renting an arena for two days to ensure the entire show worked, even sitting in different parts of the arena to make sure the sound is good for everybody.

“The show is so big, we have an intermissi­on,” he said. “At the same time, I make the shows very personal, very emotional. I put a lot of heart and soul up there.”

 ?? MICHAEL TRAN/GETTY-AFP ?? Gabriel Iglesias, seen June 14, has a residency in Las Vegas.
MICHAEL TRAN/GETTY-AFP Gabriel Iglesias, seen June 14, has a residency in Las Vegas.

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