Gabriel Iglesias Is Giddy To Be “Netflix’s Little Baby Right Now”

The Fluffy Man stays on top
The Fluffy Man stays on top Photo by Anthony Nunez

Netflix is pampering Fluffy more than a lot of the comic’s old flames.

A pretty solid trade-off for the 42-year-old funny man who inked a massive deal with the streaming giant to not only produce the comic’s next two stand-up concerts, but also green lit his multi-cam sitcom, Mr. Iglesias.

“I’m not gonna lie, I’m Netflix’s little baby right now,” Iglesias laughs. “Oh man! Netflix is treating me better than a lot of relationships in the past.”

His new hour, entitled One Show Fits All, will be a treat for Houston audiences. After battle testing
the material in 100+ cities over the past two years – the comic announced that he’ll be taping the routine at our very own Toyota Center. When asked why, the jokester lays it out. “You know what if you were asking, “Why did you pick Fargo, North Dakota?” – then I’d be like, well, why the hell did I pick Fargo North Dakota – no disrespect to Fargo, North Dakota but it is Fargo, and it is North Dakota. But Houston is like one of the biggest cities in the country – in the world, really! I’ve performed all over doing specials, coast-to-coast — including Texas. But this one is definitely gonna be the biggest special I’ve done. And the cool part is the first time I performed in an arena was right there in the Toyota Center. I’ve performed in a ba-jillion arenas since, but the Toyota Center was the first time I got to play an arena.”

Fair to say Fluffy’s a little nostalgic? “Little nostalgic, yeah,” he answers.

In fact, this hour may be the comedian’s 7th in total – but One Show Fits All will be pioneering something brand new as Netflix’s first ever 90-minute comedy concert.

“It was always an issue with me and Comedy Central to make time,” he explains about the difficult process. “I was very hands on in the editing and I didn’t want them to chop up my set. It was very hard because it always had to come in around the 42-43 minute mark — not an hour, because you had to edit for commercials! But with Netflix, they said: ‘Hey, there is no cut.’ But, they did NOT like the fact that my set was going over an hour. The last special in Chicago hit an hour and 24 minutes, and they were like: that’s a little too long, people are gonna tune out. Attention span isn’t there for that long for comedy.”

The idea of a feature length special is something that Iglesias has chased previously when he sent 2014’s The Fluffy Movie to movie theatres nationwide at a robust hour-forty minutes, perhaps as a subtle throwback to by-gone days of Eddie Murphy: Raw or Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip.

While the comic initially whittled the set into a sleeker hour-fifteen, the changes were ultimately unnecessary. “They came back and said, “Actually, it tested really well.’ People hung on the entire time, which is pretty awesome. But now, the new deal was they wanted two 90-minute specials. Because it’s a little bit of a mind sweep for me because all these years I’d been doing a controlled 43-44 minute edited set, and now I’m expected to deliver DOUBLE that per special.” That’s only a problem only for those who mind having too much Fluffy – which is rare.

click to enlarge
Iglesias never drops the mike.
Photo by Anthony Nunez

Beyond the microphone, Iglesias is taking his ability to work a live studio audience to the next level with the high school set laffer that bears his name. After settling into a grove popping up on ABC’s departed Cristela, the comic is pairing with that show’s creator Kevin Hench for what Iglesias expects could be more than just funny. “I’m playing a bit of a flawed teacher - someone who has been through the ringer a bit. I’m trying to teach history, in more ways than one.”

Working with a blend of veteran actors (including Gotham’s Maggie Geha and Last Friday’s Jacob Vargas) and undiscovered fresh faces, Iglesias expects the show to tackle social issues. “A bunch of high school kids in a classroom are being challenged by the system, and we’re gonna be touching on every type of topic you can think of. Yes, its gonna be a comedy – but every episode is gonna be like WOAH.” The 10-episode first season is expected to begin filming later in the fall.

Ironically, Iglesias notes, he connected with the setting of the series intimately. “You know what’s funny? If I wouldn’t have been a comedian, I probably would have been a teacher. That’s what I was up for! I took a course called Exploratory Teaching in high school, and they offered me a full scholarship to come back and teach in the Long Beach Unified School District.” The only catch was Iglesias would have had to have entered into bilingual education. “My comedy was better than my Spanish and you can see the route that I took!”

Before the camera rolls, the comic actually sought the advice of a TV legend. “They asked if I wanted to do single cam or if I wanted to do sitcom style, and it’s one of those things where I’m a lot more comfortable having an audience to feed off of, to help with timing and mugging and all that,” he says. “I asked Ed O’Neil from Modern Family and Married with Children about it. All these years that I watched [Married with Children], right now that you’re on Modern Family and there’s no studio audience. Is that weird for you? Ed goes, ‘It is so much better, because a live studio audience will always step on your jokes.’”

Despite this counsel, Iglesias opted for the multi-cam. “I gotta figure that I’m so used to being up in those spaces every single night, laughter doesn’t throw me – laughter makes me happier.”

Jerry Seinfeld popularized the notion that for a comedian, the number of years they’ve been doing stand-up correlates to how mature they typically are. Well, Iglesias has just hit his 21st year. Does that mean he’s old enough to drink?

The comic wails with delight: “That’s a whole ‘nother story!”

Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 13, and Friday, Septermber 14 at Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. For information, call 713-758-7200 or visit $30-80.

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Vic covers the comedy scene, in Houston and beyond. When not writing articles, he's working on his scripts, editing a podcast, doing some funny make-em-ups or preaching the good word of supporting education in the arts.
Contact: Vic Shuttee