Most stand-up comedians dream of following in the foot steps of Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld, Bernie Mac and Louis C.K. and having their own sitcoms.
Not Gabriel Iglesias. At least, not right now.
Iglesis – who describes himself as “fluffy” due to his round figure – has been enjoying one of his most successful years to date. Besides selling more than 200,000 tickets in the first three quarters of 2012 (according to Variety), Iglesias hosts Comedy Central’s “Gabriel Iglesias presents Stand-Up Revolution,” now in its second season, and played a drug-dealing strip club DJ in Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike.”
“I haven’t turned down (sitcom) offers, but I’ve turned down meetings to discuss the possibilities,” said Iglesias, 36, over the phone last week from Culver City, Calif. “Being on TV sucks. It’s a lot of work. You memorize scripts and then you show up and they change everything. I’m a control freak. When I’m doing stand-up, I say what I want and then I get instant feedback.
“Comedians do movies and TV so that when they tour, they sell out. That’s the goal: To get popular enough so the place is packed. Fortunately, I can now do that without TV.”
That’s not to say the Mexican-American Iglesias would never entertain the idea. He’s just perfectly happy with how his career is going at the moment. Iglesias recently returned from an overseas tour, where he said he performed 16 shows in 17 days. On Thursday, he kicked off the first of four sold-out shows at Chicago Improv in Schaumburg (through Sunday).
What’s been the key to his success?
“I make sure not to (anger anyone),” said Iglesias, known for his story telling and many voices. “It’s not what you say, it’s what you don’t say. I keep the show friendly. And after the show, I always make my self accessible. I take pictures. I’ve also benefited from word of mouth.”
Iglesias co-starred on season six of Nickelodeon’s “All That” with Amanda Bynes and Nick Cannon and competed on season four of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” But it’s his role in “Magic Mike,” however, that seems to have caught Hollywood’s attention, according to Iglesias. Of course, it was easy for him to stand out in the film.
“Those guys would work out all day and had carrots and celery next to their gym equipment,” Iglesias said about his shirtless co-stars, including Matthew McConaughey, Channing Tatum and Joe Manganiello. “The cool part is that it left the concessions open for me. All the garbage on the table was all mine.”
(Asked to name his favorite Chicago memory, Iglesias said it was the first time he tried Portillo’s chocolate cake shake. “Don’t get me wrong, there are other amazing things about Chicago,” Iglesias said. “But you could ask me for my five favorite memories and they probably would all involve a restaurant.)
Iglesias began seriously altering his diet four months ago due to health concerns. He said he weighed more than 400 lbs. for nearly a decade, and in recent years began suffering knee problems and struggling with his vision. But he admits it was his issues with erectile dysfunction that really motivated him to make a change.
“Unfortunately for most guys, that’s the focus,” Iglesias said. “Who care about your vision or if they have to cut off your toe? When you’re little buddy is not working and you’re under 40, that’s a huge wake-up call.”
Iglesias’ new diet is low in carbs and high in protein, and has helped him lose 45 lbs. He said he works out every day and has taken up a yoga program run by former WCW World Heavyweight Champion Diamond Dallas Page. It’s not easy dieting on the road where healthy options can be limited, but Iglesias is managing. This is the lightest he’s been in quite some time. And thanks to his booming stand-up career (his third Comedy Central DVD special, “Aloha Fluffy” is scheduled to air in Spring 2013), it’s also the busiest he’s been.
“Little by little, the phones have been ringing,” Iglesias said. “It’s really nice to say ‘I’m busy.’”
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When: 8 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Chicago Improv; 5 Woodfield Road, Schaumburg, Ill.
Tickets: Sold out; 847-240-2001 or chicago.improv.com