Is Gabriel Iglesias a "Latino comedian" bookending the week of festivities celebrating Mexican Independence on the Strip?
Or is he just the big guy in the Hawaiian shirt fans call Fluffy, talking about the cops trying to cut in on his date with a box of Krispy Kremes?
This year at least, Iglesias is happy to be both, with two weekends at the Monte Carlo framing the fun on the Strip centered around Thursday’s "Grito de Dolores." "The fact that they’ve given me two weeks is kind of a big deal for me anyway," says the 34-year-old who performs today and Saturday. "It is a step in the right direction."
The first show last week was dominated by people from Boston, he notes, with Canada and Australia also represented in the post-show greeting line. "I’m not making references only Latinos would understand. It’s a broader show. Everyone can relate to it."
Iglesias updates his stand-up based on developments in his real offstage life. He talks about "problems with my stepson, with my girlfriend, how my family’s handling what I’m doing. It gets really, really personal, but I find ways to make it entertaining."
A Latino comedian is almost by proxy going to be drawn into the dispute over Arizona’s new immigration law. But Iglesias says he uses it only as a touchstone for a long tale "about how I got pulled over in Arizona." You have to buy a ticket for the whole story about his tour bus getting stopped. But the weirdest highlight?
"The immigration officer was Mexican."
That’s about as political as it gets. "I learned early on, stay away from politics, stay away from religion and don’t talk about sports. Those three right there will get you in trouble."
And speaking of trouble, Iglesias is trying to stay out of it in Las Vegas. This morning chat comes after a long night on the town, when the comedian says he is headed into a post-breakfast "food coma."
A long night, but moderate. "Believe it or not, I keep it pretty cool," he says. "I’m in a position now where I got stuff to lose. The last thing I need to do is anything stupid."
For those who also want to keep the party on the up and up, here are some options (See the Showguide listing for times and ticket prices):
■ Carlos Mencia. Calling himself an "equal opportunity offender," the "Mind of Mencia" star preceded Iglesias in being able to play the Strip other times of the year as well. Which doesn’t keep him away from Treasure Island today for two shows.
■ Luis Miguel. Amaze your friends with this trivia: The 40-year-old heartthrob first did Mexican Independence week shows at Caesars Palace in 1997. That means he has been playing Vegas for roughly a third of his life. Anyone with a tally of how many women that involves should please let us know. He is back in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace today and Saturday (the shows are officially sold out, but where there is a secondary market there is always a way).
■ Don’t make your funny Criss Angel jokes around fans of Los Temerarios. They might be heard as a slam against brothers Gustavo and Adolfo Angel, who with cousin Fernando have made this group a pop institution for 32 years. They play the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday.
■ Veteran songwriter Marco Antonio Solis, who last year teamed with Pepe Aguilar, this time brings mariachi star Pedro Fernandez to the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday.
■ The Las Vegas International Mariachi Festival bounced around town, but nonetheless became a tradition of its own in the 2000s. This time it’s in the Pavilion at the Rio on Saturday.
■ If you don’t know anything about mariachi or ranchero music, just smile and yell "Tequila!" Best if you do it at the Las Vegas Tequila Fest on Friday and Saturday at the Rio.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.Preview
8 p.m. today and Saturday
Theatre at the Monte Carlo, 3770 Las Vegas Blvd. South