Call him "Fluffy."
Comedian Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias has carved out quite a career for himself telling stories about the people in his life and the things they do together, which often involves food and where to get it. In fact, finding food while on the road with comedian friends is the basis of his Fuse TV reality show Fluffy Breaks Even which begins its third season later this year. But that's only half the fun. The other half finds Fluffy and his pals seeking out gyms where they attempt to work off the calories they just ingested - trying to break even.
The show is an extension of Iglesias' life as a comic. And by all accounts, it's been a pretty good life, if at times challenging for the 40-year-old from California. His standup routine, punctuated with impersonations and sound effects, bears this out. Iglesias steers away from controversy, so his comedy does not delve into politics or race or sports or religion. Well, maybe race a little bit, but never in offensive ways.
One of the central themes in his comedy is his weight and the struggle to control the life-threatening diabetes that results from it.
Iglesias brings his FluffyMania Tour: 20 Years of Comedy show to the Embassy Theatre on Sunday, March 5. In addition to the reality show and his standup, which he has performed around the world, Iglesias has appeared in movies doing voice-over and live action and has recently started producing shows for other comedians.
Iglesias was born in 1976 in San Diego. His mother and five older brothers and sisters moved around before settling in a neighborhood in Los Angeles. In interviews he's told of entertaining his family from a young age with impersonations, saying his ability to mimic everyone from Popeye to Ronald Reagan to Valley Girls came to him naturally.
In a 2014 interview with goseetalk.com, Iglesias talked about his first time on stage.
"The first time I got on stage I was 10 years old and I did impressions. I did cartoon characters, and I really got the bug for this life when I saw that people were laughing and saw the attention I was getting. I remember seeing Eddie Murphy Raw and seeing people laughing and having a good time, and that was the same response I was getting, so I thought I was on to something. But like you said that's the response you get when you're young like 'oh, you're just getting laughs because you're a little kid and you're cute.' They weren't trying to encourage me at all or tell me to keep pursuing this."
But pursue it he did. Iglesias had a job working at a cell phone company in Los Angeles when he decided to chase his dream of doing standup full time. He quit the cell phone job and, against the advice of his mother, dove into comedy full-time. That was in 1997. Now he is one of the most popular acts in the country. Apparently, he knew what he was doing.
After disconnecting from the phone company, Iglesias began to get his career dialed in. He's appeared in movies as varied as Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL and The Nut Job and The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature. In one of his many cable specials, Aloha Fluffy: Parts 1 and 2, Iglesias revealed that he is the No. 2 comedian in the Middle East, right behind Jeff Dunham. The news came to him via a 19-year-old Saudi prince while he was in Riyadh performing for the prince and 800 of his friends.
The nearly 25-minute Saudi Arabia story in the midst of the 90-minute special is a prime example of Iglesias' gift for weaving his voice talents, his self-deprecation and aspects of his personal life into a compelling narrative.
But perhaps the most compelling story he tells is the one of living with type 2 diabetes. When he found out he had the disease he weighed 450 pounds. His doctor told him unless he changed his lifestyle immediately and dramatically he'd be dead in two years. So he changed his diet, started lifting weights and doing yoga and lost 100 pounds.
In the same goseetalk.com interview, Iglesias talked about his illness and about how people respond to personal revelations in positive ways.
"I put everything out there, and if I'm having a bad time people know about it. My girlfriend knows that if I'm acting weird at home, to go to one of my shows to see what's on my mind," he said. "For example, in the movie (Fluffy the Movie) I'll talk about why I had to lose 100 pounds, how I'm type 2 diabetic and how I was literally facing death. My legs were all swollen, and doctors told me my blood sugar was all out of whack. So I looked into having surgery, and that wasn't going to work, so I had to do something really fast to lose a bunch of weight. Stuff like that.
"If you put your personal stories out there, people always connect. People understand when I talk about my son not listening, or issues at home, or his real dad coming back into the picture, or even stories about family members not seeing eye to eye with what you're doing. By putting myself out there the way I've been doing people see me as a real person. Even though I do character voices and funny noises the stories are still real and I put them all out there."