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Comedian Gabriel ‘Fluffy’ Iglesias tries to ‘break even’ in new reality show

Comedians Gabriel Iglesias, right, and Martin Moreno have fun outside of Parkers' Lighthouse in Long Beach.

Comedians Gabriel Iglesias, right, and Martin Moreno have fun outside of Parkers’ Lighthouse in Long Beach.

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

Sitting at Long Beach’s Parkers’ Lighthouse overlooking the ocean, comedian Gabriel Iglesias pulls out his cellphone. Scrolling through the notes section, he lands on a page dated Dec. 30, 2012. On it is the skeleton of the idea bringing him back to television screens on Thursday night, an unscripted show about his struggles eating healthy and working out while on tour.

“I love shows like ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ or ‘Man v. Food’ where they get to go eat,” he said. “They get to go eat. They don’t have to tell jokes or nothing. I said to myself, ‘I want that gig.’”

Noshing on the restaurant’s cheesy bread and Chilean seabass (which he has at least twice a month), Iglesias remembered calling his agent and making the pitch. Three years later, the show, called “Fluffy Breaks Even” is coming to fruition on Fuse.

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Every week audiences will get a behind-the-scenes look into Iglesias’ touring life. As he travels across the country, he and fellow comedians Martin Moreno and Rick Gutierrez tweet to their followers about the best places to eat in each city. Each episode shows the trio having a meal followed by a unique workout to burn off the calories they’ve just consumed, all while the comics hilariously riff on the experience.

And both the meals and the workouts are intense. Memorable dining experiences include the Barn Door in Odessa, Texas, whose massive Tomahawk-style steak was preceded by a 20-pound block of cheese as an appetizer (No, they didn’t eat it all). Moreno also loved Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis, Tenn. As for the workouts, they included everything from pole dancing to Ultimate Fighting Championship training to a military apocalypse survival course.

“I don’t want the fans to think, ‘Oh he’s messing around. He eats like he’s serious, but he doesn’t take that workout like it’s serious,’” Iglesias said.

But the San Diego-born funny man is serious and hopes his fans will be able to see that through the show, if not the over 100 pounds he has lost since he began eating better and working out.

This inclusion of his admirers into his personal struggles is a stark cry from the guy who got his start on April 10, 1997, at a show in Long Beach.

“When I first started doing stand-up, I was smoke and mirrors, just voices and characters,” he said. “There was no substance. I didn’t talk about myself. It was very safe. But when I started incorporating real things about myself, it got to a point where I was using the voices and sound effects just as like frosting on the cake.”

Iglesias has since made a career out of a nickname many would shun. Known to his fans as Fluffy -- because, in his words, he’s not fat, he’s fluffy -- the former “Last Comic Standing” contestant continually sells out shows internationally and contributes to box office hits like the “Magic Mike” franchise. But after at one time pushing almost 450 pounds, his doctor warned him of the health concerns related to obesity and diabetes.

“I was all back, like a turtle,” he joked about the amount of weight he formerly carried. “But it was one of those things where I’ve been this character of Fluffy, but I needed to find a way to let people know that my comedy isn’t going to change, but I physically need to change. By incorporating it into my [stand-up] show, I [was able] to explain it, to let them know, ‘You’re in on the ride.’”

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Moreno and Gutierrez join Iglesias on this journey of weight loss and health management as longtime friends and colleagues.

“To lose weight, you have to be on a friend basis to mess with each other and get each other up to go do things,” Gutierrez said. “We push each other and it’s also fun.”

Moreno credits the show and Iglesias’ former weight issues with also helping him better his life, which at the time was full of “drinking heavily and eating crap,” he said. But after they got physicals and blood work almost three years ago, they made a commitment together.

“That was a big life changer for me,” Moreno said. “Out of all the things we’ve done together, that’s the one thing I’m eternally grateful for.”

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As for the comedy, audiences should only expect Iglesias, with his signature Hawaiian shirts, to get better. In the meantime, he’s just trying to break even on the scale.

“Fluffy Breaks Even” premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. on Fuse.

Get your life! Follow me on Twitter: @TrevellAnderson.


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