Gabriel Iglesias Talks Breaking Into Comedy, Food Shows, and Shooting Zombies
With his new show, Fluffy Breaks Even, this stand-up favorite has set out to do more than just make you laugh.
All Gabriel Iglesias wanted to do was pay his rent.
“You have to figure in the beginning, it was all about making enough as a comedian to support myself,” the comedian told Maxim. Though hesitant to leave his original job due to financial security, the San Diego native chose to put stability aside and try his hand at what he truly loved. Taking the stage name ‘Fluffy,’ Gabriel embarked on a journey with the ultimate goal of making people laugh back in 1997 — and never looked back.
Now, after several years in the business, the highly renowned comedian, actor, writer, and producer knows a thing or two about cracking a joke. Gabriel has sold out theaters with several of his stand-up shows, dabbled in the world of animation with The Nut Job and Family Guy , and spent time with Channing Tatum and his washboard abs in the absurdly popular Magic Mike films. You’d think everyone’s favorite Hawaiian-shirt wearing honcho would take a breather, but he’s got plenty more to share.
Premiering October 1st on Fuse TV at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, Fluffy Breaks Even will follow Gabriel Iglesias and his pals as they travel across the country and inhale as much as they can, all while finding time to work it off in the process. “My agent kept saying that I was very busy and wasn’t sure it would work,” Iglesias said. “But whether there’s a camera rolling or not, we’re all going to go out and have a good time and work it out, so I figured they should just send a camera crew because if not, we’re going to do it anyway. And that’s what it makes it a fun show — it’s so organic.”
With the show’s first episode on the horizon, Gabriel spoke with Maxim about the how he got to this point in his career, the difference between film and stand-up, and what to expect from Fluffy Breaks Even.
How strenuous was your journey to the point you’re at now?
This is eighteen years in the business, it was definitely not an overnight thing. I wish we had social media back in the day, but we didn’t. We had to rely on fliers, and maybe if we were lucky getting on the radio, or maybe getting a write-up somewhere. For me, there were no real comedy clubs I could perform at. I started when I was twenty, and so I had to sneak into bars. I was performing inside of bars, and hotels, and banquet halls, backyard barbecues.
I’ve performed for amazing people, I’ve performed for real seedy people. I’ve performed for dignitaries, I’ve performed for drug dealers. You name it, I’ve done shows for anybody and everybody. So when you get yourself into an amazing position like the one I’m in right now, you just kind of reflect on it like ‘eh, you know, we deserve to be here.’
Where do you draw from when composing your sets and your signature jokes?
Well every week, I’m home for three days. And so during that time, I’ve got a family, I’ve got dogs, I’ve got other pets and stuff like that, and the friends that I hang out with on the road, so that’s the usually the only thing I can really draw from, because that’s the time that I’m spending when I’m not working. Everybody can relate to relationships, so I’m always talking about the situation that’s at home, and then the balance of life with me trying to be an entertainer, and trying to be a dad at the same time. So all of that together equals the show that I put out right now.
And yet you still had time to flaunt it in Magic Mike and Magic Mike 2. How does working on a set compare to being on stage?
When you do film versus doing stand up, it’s very, very different. You get instant feedback when you do stand up, and the only feedback you get is from the director or the people in the room when you do film. I don’t know if it’s hysterical or not until I’m sitting in the back of the theater.
Then there’s relying on a script. Having to remember lines, and having to rehearse, and go over the same lines over and over. Whereas on stage, it’s just one time, you go out there and if it works it works, and if it doesn’t work, try again tomorrow. You know when you’re on a movie set, it’s a lot of waiting.
Film is cool, it’s cool to say that you’re doing a movie, it’s cool to see your face on a poster, it’s cool to be at a premiere on the red carpet, all of that is cool. The actual part of making a film is work. It’s a lot of work, and sometimes they’re good days, and sometimes they’re not-so-good days. I’ve been fortunate that with both Magic Mike films, everybody was super nice. Especially Channing, and the directors – it was great.
Your new show, Fluffy Breaks Even, is set to premiere this week. What made you go for the more ‘unscripted’ approach?
I came up with the idea back in December of 2012. I was always a big fan of the food shows, like you know, Man vs. Food, and thought those guys have the greatest gig. They travel all over the place, they get to eat at all those favorite restaurants, they talk about food, and they don’t have to tell jokes. They got the easiest gig in the world and I’m so envious of that. I wondered how can I do a show like that, but put a spin on it. The fact that I had to lose a hundred pounds recently gave me the idea that, you know what, how about we do a show where we show what it’s like to go out and indulge a little bit, but also be accountable for it. because what I don’t wanna do is put back all that weight that I lost. I want to go out there, show people that it is possible to have a good time, but, if you’re gonna have a good time, this is what you gotta do to counterbalance that.
Is it hard balancing food and fitness, all while keeping things funny?
If you follow us around with a camera for a day, you’re gonna wind up laughing. All the guys are always on. These guys are constantly cracking jokes and just saying the most inappropriate things. And whenever we’re eating we’re probably talking more. The editing is probably the hardest part, you know, because they gotta chop it down to twenty minutes. We gave you the funny, now you chop it up, and let’s take the money. [laughs] And putting us in humorous situations also made for humorous things.
For example, we did a zombie apocalypse training episode, where we went out to a training camp. We were in military fatigues and they got us doing all kinds of drills out in the heat. From pushing trucks, flipping tires, crawling under barbed wire, you know, running with forty pound backpacks and machine guns in the heat. I mean, that’s some pretty intense stuff, but it looks funny on camera. None of us look like the type of guys that could survive a zombie apocalypse.
With something so intense, were there ever any unexpected mishaps?
There were some technical glitches. When we were doing the zombie apocalypse training, at the end of that, they allowed us to fire weapons. We were shooting handguns and assault restaurants. And so they’d line us up, it was three in a row, and we’re shooting zombie targets. You know, real ammunition. My buddy Martin who’s on the show with me, he’s standing right next to me and he’s firing this assault rifle, and all the shells are flying in the air. And three of those shells flew down the back of my shirt, and I got burnt in the process. So now I have those scars, the burn marks, from the shells, still.
What about Fluffy Breaks Even is going to allow it to stand out from the competition?
The really cool part about the show is that it’s very fan interactive. We send out tweets to the fans so that they send us ideas and suggestions for where to eat. You know, whenever we’re in town, sometimes I’m familiar with restaurants, sometimes I wind up eating at a Waffle House or something generic like an IHOP or a Denny’s, so I put it out there to the fans to suggest where I should get a bite. And we get all kinds of different ideas. The fact that it’s a fan interactive show, I think is a nice twist, and it’s something that’ll definitely bring people in.
*Check out an exclusive clip from tonight’s episode!
(Fluffy and his fellow comedians heat things up in Memphis on an unexpected BBQ bike tour. After eating the “Holy Trinity of Meat,” the guys attempt to break even with a pick-up game of basketball that is anything but a slam dunk – set to air on Fuse Thursday, October 15 at 10pm ET/PT.)
Photos by Fuse