Gabriel Iglesias may be a comic, but in Fresno he’s treated like a rock star.
Before even one word his hour-plus performance Saturday night at The Big Fresno Fair, the crowd was packed in and on its feet, chanting the comic’s name. Random voices – men and women – screamed, “Fluffy, we love you.”
That much is obvious. Fresno loves Fluffy.
Iglesias – Fluffy in the media and to his fans – has become the fair’s go-to comedian. They named the street behind the Paul Paul theater after him. He’s played there for the last three years and sold the place out three times.
On Saturday, he made it a fourth.
He’s never played a fair four years in a row.
The night’s openers – Alfred Robles and G Reilly – were capable comics. Each had moment that would make your face hurt from laughing. But Iglesias showed why he is the number one comic on Youtube – a piece a trivia I picked up from the video screen before the show.
Iglesias is an actor as much as a comic. He does faces. He does voices. He does noises.
He builds complete scenes and buries jokes within them. Sometimes the jokes are right up front. Sometimes they are subtly hidden. They never seemed forced or fake. In fact, much of the set seemed impromptu and tailored the crowd. Iglesias talked Mexican food and taco trucks. He talked about playing at the old Double Tree Hotel downtown, about being pulled over by Fresno police, about almost getting shot.
“I’ve experience everything that Fresno has to offer,” he said.
Iglesias kept up for an hour, before he seemed to falter some, like he’d run out of material. Technically, he had. The show had been over for seven minutes by that point, which he proved by showing the audience the on-stage digital countdown clock.
Then, Fluffy did an encore, pulling out the old bits, the stuff people knew. Iglesias set them up and the audience screamed out the punchlines in unison – like a rock star.
▪ Don’t show up late for a comedy show. Especially if you are sitting in the front row.
▪ Robles had the boldest joke of the night with a punchline that involved the Fresno police.
▪ I had forgotten about the racist gift basket.
▪ Fluffy joked about dying on stage, being buried in batter, deep fried and sold at next year’s fair. That’s my kind of dark humor.