Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gabriel Iglesias: Nicest Comic in the World

I was a bit scared and anxious at once standing outside the Fox California Theater in Salinas on Friday night, waiting for comedian Gabriel Iglesias to sneak me in back stage.

As the Valley chill settled and hundreds of entertainment-starved patrons lined up outside the theater, stretching around the corner, I could only stand around and look at my cell phone clock. 7:05. 7:13. 7:26. Finally, at 7:33, the phone rang.

“Que Honda, Loco.” the voice on the other end said in a booming baritone. Gabriel had made good on his promise to call when he got into town and set me up with a spot. It was the first time any performer/artist had personally invited me anywhere after an interview. I was geeked.

I've been backstage enough to know that there isn't much going on. You just kind of sit around and wait for the show to start, then try and find a good viewpoint and stay out of people's way. This was no different. Gabriel was standing around dressed in a black Raiders sweatshirt, jean shorts and tennis shoes. He had 5 or 6 people hovering around him, namely his opening act comedy crew, a road manager, and someone's girlfriend sitting and keeping a close eye on things. I kept out of the way mostly as he took pictures with various fans and promoters who were shuffled in and out of the small space.

Finally, Gabriel called me over with a sly “Que Honda, Guey” and gave me a hearty hand shake. He joked about one of the local DJ's, then told everybody about our interview, how cool it went and how happy he was to see me there. I kept my cool, but it was hard just because I was so damn appreciative of the hospitality.

I brought along my video camera, asked if I could film some of his show, which he politely declined. However, he did grant me a video interview, which you can view here.

As for the show, I can only say that Gabriel's got a load of new material and he unleashed it on the raucous Salinas audience, which ate it up and asked for more. He chastised the physical duress of playing tennis on Nintendo Wii, shared memories of being raised by a single mom who explained that his father was the metal-studded leather belt that she kept hanging on the kitchen wall, and did impressions of George Lopez, Carlos Mencia and Paul Rodriguez.

The reception was electric. The packed house roared at each comedian, and then had more than enough reserved for Gabriel. Backstage, the openers kept commenting on the audience approval. They loved it.

And I loved the fact that a genuinely nice guy has found success in a tough industry, and he's Mexican at that. I text messaged Gabriel the next day thanking him. His response extended to all of Salinas.

“Glad you had a good time hombre. See you on the next one!”

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