review by Brady Tackett, photos by David Zeek Martin,
special to The City Wire
FAYETTEVILLE — In case you haven’t heard, Gabriel Iglesias, the manic Comedy Central sensation nicknamed “Fluffy,” is very fat. Iglesias built his fame with jokes set at Krispy Kreme drive-thru windows and the Tex-Mex restaurants.
Some 1,140 fans filled the 1,200-seat Walton Arts Center on Monday night (May 21), expecting more fat jokes. Many waited in lines in the lobby to buy “6 Levels of Fatness” T-shirts and hoodies emblazoned with the word “FLUFFY” in all caps.
But last night’s set – one of 38 stops on the Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution tour in promotion of the Comedy Central special and DVD of the same name – revealed a funnier, more mature set of new jokes about gender, friendship and the pain of parenthood.
“This is a completely new show,” he told the audience. “This is all stories tonight – just a bunch of stories. They’re all real people and they’re really my friends.”
True to his word, the new jokes were populated by vivid characters, from Iglesias’ tight-knit tour crew to his girlfriend and 14-year-old stepson, Frankie.
“When he hit 14, he stopped smelling cute. He used to smell like honey and biscuits,” Iglesias said. “Now, when he takes his shoes off, the whole house smells like burnt quesadillas.”
The set was also tinted with honesty and vulnerability, a masterful effect.
“I make thousands of people laugh on stages all across the world. You know how messed up it is that I can’t do that to my kid?”
Despite the sober subject matter, the first half was bookended by jokes about molestation. He kept the audience roaring with demented impressions. One joke set during a bank robbery found the comic playing a gruff bank robber before wrenching his vice upward to impersonate the female teller.
In recent years, Iglesias has ventured into cartoons – he contributed gleeful performances for Disney Channel’s The Emperor’s New School and provided voices for an entire family of Mexican immigrants in a 2007 episode of Family Guy—and that charisma shone Monday night.
Iglesias has rescued his career from a one-note joke. The new material showcases a new brand of humor that transcends race, politics and even the comic’s weight.