Comedian Gabriel Iglesias has just started to make a silver screen presence, having done some voice-work for Planes in 2013 and The Nut Job in 2014, along with appearing in films like Magic Mike and A Haunted House 2. Now, Iglesias makes his biggest effort yet to show the moviegoing crowd his comedy of hyper impressions and voices with his first theatrical stand-up film, The Fluffy Movie.
I sat down in a roundtable interview with Iglesias to discuss his stand-up film, the power of Youtube numbers, the over-the-top stereotype humor in A Haunted House 2, Magic Mike 2, and more.
The Fluffy Movie opens everywhere on July 25.
What has been your involvement with this film project, aside from making the jokes?
This is really challenging for me because it's my baby, I'm very personal about my standup. That's all I've known. And so the back-and-forth with the film company, everybody wants to have their say, so we're all trying to get on the same page. It's very challenging because it originally started off at over two hours, and now it's at 97 minutes. That's the first thing. Second thing was the promotion, like the poster. They wanted to use a red shirt, and I said, "Well, you can't use a red shirt, because a red shirt is what I wore in my last special." And they said, "Well, our focus groups tell us that red will pop better against the blue, and more people would see it." And I said, "Yeah, well my fans are going to think they're going to see the same things that they just saw." Everytime I do a special, I brand everything with a certain color shirt, so as soon as everybody knows, they can identify which special that is, everything is so different. I didn't want to use the exact same thing and have people think, "Oh, that's the same shirt, it's carrying over, it must be a bonus edition or something."
Even in 2014, when TV is really giving movies a run for their money, people are still making stand-up movies. What are your thoughts on that? What's different or special about seeing a standup movie in a theater?
I think first of all the fact that very few have done it is a big deal. So anytime anyone is given a chance to do it, Hollywood or whoever, the powers that be, they see something - Kevin Hart did amazing numbers with his two comedy films, and it's because of what he did that they said, "Well, maybe there's another guy out there," and so they started seeing what were they elements related to why Kevin Hart did what he did. They checked his social media, they checked his Youtube numbers, they checked his popularity. And I'm at a really good position where we're pretty much neck-and-neck with that online, on social media the Youtube channels, and the views. And so they're taking kind of a calculated chance, plus the fact that Latinos are so high up there on the people who go out to watch movies, like, "Well, maybe we'll combine the social media and the fact that this guy is Latino and his material crosses over." And given such an opportunity to do something this big, I mean this is the biggest thing that I've ever done. All of the specials, this is the biggest thing that I've ever done. All of the movies that I've popped in, this one is on my shoulders. It's pretty big. And I think that it's great because the laughs are still the same. I have tested the material a thousand times, and the laughs are still the same.
I've sat in a screening and a theater full of people, and I'm getting the same laughs that I would live, so that for me is cool. It's the same laugh. They could actually see better, because if you're in the back of the room you can only see a little dude on the stage, but now it's every facial thing that I do and move, and the sound is great. It's funny to watch it because I'm in the room and I'm watching myself and I'm watching the people, and I'm basically cloned. I like the fact that the theater was full; all of the people they brought in they brought off the street. They weren't my fans. I asked, "Can I tweet to my fans?" so that they could watch the screening, but they said, "No, we want to see how a real audience." And then it tested high, so it was like, "No, they knew who you were," and then it was like, "Well why the hell did we do that then?"
How much did your career change when "Fluffy" became a word that you really started to associate yourself with?
It took off. That nickname implies "This guy's is not threatening," "I can bring the family," "This guy isn't going to mess up my night," if anything, "Maybe this guy isn't crazy enough." That's the thing that people say, "I thought you were going to be a little bit dirtier." And I say, "Oh, I'm sorry, fuck you have a good night" [laughs]. And then sometimes I might cuss on the stage and I'll see people who have brought their kids and I'll be like, "Oh, I didn't know you were going to be here, I'm so sorry." But then they say that they hear worse in the house, and then I don't feel as bad.
Making the shows accessible to everyone was one thing, keeping it friendly. I tell people that I try not to get political, I don't want to get religious, I don't want to get controversial, I just want to have a show that relates to everybody. So when you talk about families, relationships, being a fish out of water, being the new guy somewhere, everyone can relate to that.
Your film trailer, like the Kevin Hart projects, specifically boasts about these Youtube numbers.
Youtube is bigger than doing a "Tonight Show" appearance. It's the biggest viewing audience you're going to get, period. There's no TV show that is going to match that unless you're doing the Super Bowl, and even then that's only in the US. If you've got one million views and it's scattered all over the world, if you're gonna go to a country and you;re gonna do a 1500 seat theater, your numbers of people that have seen you worldwide are so much bigger than just .. for example, Oslo, Norway, I played an arena there. It was the second time, a frickin' arena.
In your recent film appearance in 'A Haunted House 2,' you and Marlon Wayans have a distinct comic energy that seems to be focused on getting past the sensitivities that may be carried with stereotypes.
We went so crazy on those scenes. First of all, originally when I saw it I was like, "Okay, gardener, you're this, you've got me pushing a lawnmower." But Marlon was like, "Look man, we're making fun of stereotypes. We're going to go so far over-the-top that people can't get offended by it because it's so exaggerated." And I was like, "You know what, you're making a good point right there." I've got no negative flack from anybody about it. We just escalated it. In real life, half of that would have ended in a fight, or death. But the fact with the movie is that we just kept pushing it. The stuff that they cut out was even crazier. There's one point where we're both on top of each other, and I've got my fingers in mouth. We both pushed the envelope. And that's what they left out. But they left him banging the doll in, which was cool.
We'd do a regular scene, where you follow the script, and then you'd do a second scene, where you just riff and try to make it as funny as you can. That's what I appreciated, that was fun for me.
How many of those made the movie?
75%. You got to figure they wrote it to be this much, and by the time I got through with it, it was like Boom. And the fact that we were going into stereotypes, I was like, "Alright, you want to see some stereotypical jokes? Watch this." One time they got me in a lowrider, and Marlon called me and was like, "What's a good stereotypical Mexican car?" And I'm like, "You got to get a lowrider." "How many people should be in the car?" "You know, as many people as you can fit." Next thing you know, boom. "Is there a crazy horn?" And I said, "Yeah, you got to put 'La Cuacaracha' on there." And so there's that scene when I'm driving in front of the house and I say, "I'm going to the swap meet, we're going to get some chihuahuas."
That movie rubbed some people the wrong way, but the ones who loved it, they couldn't get enough of it.
Are you going to be in 'Magic Mike 2'?
Yes, that is going to happen, and this time it's a different director, so something tells me that I'm going to get a little more freedom with this one. Matthew McConaughey is not going to be in it. Soderbergh's assistant Greg Jacobs is going to be in it. I'm a lot cooler with Greg, and Greg's kids are the ones that pushed for me to be in the film.
What was in that Hey-Juice bottle from 'Magic Mike'?
It was just water. It was funny to hear Channing [Tatum] doing that for real when he was an actual stripper. If you had more than the cap, you were done.
You've done a fair amount of voice-acting for animation movies recently, which fits well with your comedic tools. Are your going to pursue that more, especially as your appeal starts to potentially expand after this film?
Any animation that I can do, I'm all for it. I've got three more movies coming out this year? Book of Life, that's going to be a big one, they're putting a lot of money behind that one. I've got this movie called Americano, and I signed up for Nut Job 2. Voiceover work is great. I knocked out Nut Job in four hours, and Planes in two days. Book of Life took two days. It's quick, you're in and you're out. You don't have to deal with other actors or egos, it's just you and the director. The whole time the guy is cheering you on to do the voice.