The 36-year-old San Diego-born comedian Gabriel Iglesias has been on just about every major television network, presenting his brand of humor, including storytelling, voices and sound effects. In addition to comedy specials like “I’m Not Fat … I’m Fluffy” and “Hot & Fluffy” and appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and “Conan,” he had a small part in last summer’s “Magic Mike.” He’s making his third visit to Jacksonville.
Folio Weekly: You’ve recently toured internationally — Australia, Europe and Saudi Arabia. Out of all the places you’ve been, what’s your favorite?
Gabriel Iglesias: There is still no place like home. It is cool to go to all of those places, but give me anywhere in the U.S. This is still my place.
F.W.: You were on one of my all-time favorite shows, the Nickelodeon sketch-comedy series “All That.” Would you consider that show your launching pad?
G.I.: That’s funny to think that I was a child star. [Laughs.] I was doing stand-up at the time, but not on a hard-working level. I did that show first and that’s what basically got my foot in the door. That was my little launching pad. Very few people remember that, so thank you.
F.W.: Have you made it a point to keep your set clean for a particular reason, or is that just you?
G.I.: I have kept it clean and friendly because when you do that, you widen your fan base. Some people say, “He isn’t that edgy,” and “He’s not this or that.” Yeah, I’m not that, but my ticket sales aren’t suffering. I enjoy watching shows that aren’t like mine. I enjoy watching a real edgy show, a real political show or a real in-your-face show. My sense of humor is very jaded. I try to keep my show friendly, not piss anybody off.
F.W.: What comedian or comedians did you look up to when you were a child?
G.I.: A lot of Eddie Murphy, Paul Rodriguez and Robin Williams. Even Billy Crystal — I listened to a lot of him.
F.W.: Who is your favorite comedian performing these days?
G.I.: My favorite comedian right now is a comedian named Jim Jeffries. His comedy is very, you know, it’s a little out there.
F.W.: When you’re writing new material, what’s your process?
G.I.: I never put anything on paper. No notes, no pads, nothing is ever put in writing. I just throw stuff out there and see what people laugh at. If they laugh, I’ll continue to use it. If it doesn’t get a laugh, and I still think it is good, I’ll tweak it. If it still isn’t working, that’s when I drop it. … It really frustrated the hell out of my first manager, because for my first special, Comedy Central wanted my set in writing. I didn’t have it, so he had to go through and listen to my set and put it in writing. It was 15 pages long.
F.W.: Comedians talk about “taking their licks” while playing clubs and bars at the beginning of their careers. Have any horror stories to tell?
G.I.: Oh yeah, any comedian who says they don’t are full of it. One time I was doing a show for an organization similar to PETA. I was doing the show with Jay Leno. Leno went up and did his thing; they laughed. I went on and was doing well for the first four minutes until I mentioned a bit about my Chihuahua peeing on my pillow. I said, “Yeah, my dog peed on my pillow, so I kicked him off my bed.” Everyone was quiet, then I heard one guy say, “He kicked his dog!” The whole room turned on me. For the rest of the set they didn’t laugh, and it was terrible.
F.W.: Any advice for aspiring comedians out there?
G.I.: If you want to get on TV and do what I am doing and what guys like Jeff Dunham are doing, then keep it clean. Eventually, you can start getting dirty. Talk about broad topics that everyone can relate to. Avoid talking about sports, religion and politics. Avoid anything that will rub people the wrong way. Some comedians like to go out there and talk about sensitive topics like cancer. Some guys like to push the envelope, but at times they push it too far and they can’t go back. It takes a lot of talent to touch on topics like that and keep the crowd. It’s a really fine line, and until you have mastered it, I’d just keep it clean.