Apr. 26–EL PASO — Bobby Marquez didn’t know until he stepped inside the Plaza Theatre for the first time Saturday night that the comedian he w as about to see, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, would be taping his next Comedy Central special that night.
“We just bought the tickets right now,” Marquez said as he settled into row L, seat 5 on the left side of the historic theater’s floor seating area, one row behind his wife, Amorette, and a couple of friends. “I didn’t know he was gonna film it.”
Marquez, who has caught Iglesias’ act at the Comic Strip and once ran into him at a Chili’s restaurant, might have been the only one in the 6:30 p.m. show’s 1,800-person audience who didn’t know that Iglesias would be doing his signature voices and sound effects for the cable comedy network’s millions come this fall.
But the seven cameras, 16-member crew and noticeable audience buzz were dead giveaways.
Those and the handout given to audience members before the show, warning there would be no late seating, no leaving of seats, no cameras or recording devices allowed, not to mention laser pens and cameras were verboten while cell phones were discouraged, or at least needed to be shut off.
This was Hollywood, baby, and the headliner and his appreciative audience — which included his mother — were up to the task.
The 32-year-old Iglesias, long a staple in the Sun City, treated the crowd to an energized performance of prepared material that reflected his newfound maturity as the
unofficial stepfather of his girlfriend’s 10-year-old son, Frankie. But he opened his nearly 75-minute performance by recalling how badly drunk he got in El Paso for his 21st birthday, when the Comic Strip staff took him to the legendary local alternative club, the OP. “The guys were looking at me like I was tacos,” he cracked.
He pretty much had the audience eating out of the palm of his fluffy hands after that, riffing about a new level of fluffy (i.e. obesity) he called “Oh, hell no!,” using his vast imitative skills to re-create a number of sound effects (from speeding cars to microwave ovens) and perfectly nail a plethora of voices (from white and Mexican rednecks to a black hotel desk clerk, part of a hilarious bit about a “racist gift basket” he and opener Martin Moreno gave to a black comic friend of theirs).
Iglesias is accomplished enough to veer off the script, singling out a soldier in the front row to talk about his own performances recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, complete with gunfire and bomb sound effects and plenty of Arabic chatter.
A joke about being recognized on the freeway led to him name-dropping Chico’s Tacos, which got a huge and knowing ovation from the crowd. “El Paso, you know I need to talk about that,” he said to the crowd’s delight. “The world needs to know.”
Even a guy who claims to put away a lot of food has encountered a first at the local institution. “I have eaten a lot of foods,” he said, “but I never thought I’d see a day when I drank a taco.”
The crowd ate it up.
Though his life has changed, and he spoke lovingly and often humorously about his new girlfriend, her friends and the kid he affectionately calls his stepson, Iglesias couldn’t resist a few tales of drunken debauchery here and there. One such tale, about a high-school reunion gone awry, was quickly interrupted by a crew member trying to warn Iglesias that some cloth from the black towel with which he’d been wiping his sweat had stuck to the left side of his face.
“Black towel? Sounds like black porno,” he quipped, informing the crowd that he worked off-the-cuff. “I don’t have notes up here. No notes. No TelePrompter.”
Plaza Theatre director Wendy Garrett said it was the first time anyone had filmed a TV special at the restored theater. “I’m thrilled because we can show this around,” she said before Saturday’s first show.
You might also like