Gabriel Iglesias, one of America’s most prominent comedians, used to be 445 lbs and was given 2 years to live. Now, he’s lost over a hundred pounds and has a very successful road ahead of him. Better known by his nickname, Fluffy, Gabriel Iglesias has thousands of fans all over the world. Most of his stand-up jokes are about his personal life story, which consists of friends, family, and food. A lot of his comedy revolves around his weight and his love for food, which he embraces. Iglesias is not ashamed of his weight; he says people ask him all the time, “‘Don’t you want to live to be a hundred?”, to which he answers, “well not if I can’t eat tacos!” Like this, Gabriel Iglesias uses his comical character and his body positivity to be a humorous as well as meaningful comedian.
“I used to say that there were Five Levels of Fatness. Reason why I say “Used to say” is because now there are six! Uh-huh, I met the new one in Las Cruces. The original five levels are Big, Healthy, Husky, Fluffy, and DAMN! People ask, “What could be bigger than DAMN!” The new level’s called “OH HELL NO!” What’s the difference? You’re still willing to work with level five. Example, if you’re on an elevator and you’re with your friend and this really big guy gets on and you and your friend look at each other and you’re like, “DAAAMN!” But you still let the big guy ride your elevator. That’s the difference. Level six, you see walking towards your elevator, [Deep growling noise] [Pretends to be a shocked passenger and starts pushing the “close door” button.] “OH HELL NO!” [Growl] “NO!!” [Growl] “NO!!”[Pretends to kick the fat man out] That’s the difference. The guy that I met was six foot eight, six hundred and fourteen pounds. Uh-huh, OH HELL NO!! And he was offended at my show. Not by anything that I said, but because of the fact that now at the shows I started selling T-shirts and apparently, I didn’t have his size. Keep in mind, I go all the way up to 5X on the T-shirts and he was like, [Deep growling voice] “You don’t have my size.” I was like, “Dude, I didn’t know they MADE you! I have up to 5X, I don’t have [Growl] X!””
-Excerpt from I’m Not Fat… I’m Fluffy (2009)
A very crucial part of Iglesias’s stand-up shows is his animated personality. Iglesias does an outstanding job of changing his voice depending on the people in his joke. His voices range widely from “preppy white girl” to “old southern man,” and he even incorporates sound effects with his voice such as cop sirens and bell dings. His use of sound helps to animate his jokes and makes his audience feel as if they are experiencing exactly what Iglesias is talking about. In this specific bit, his voice is the actual punchline and has a great impact on the audience; without the incorporation of sound, it would not be as humorous. As Iglesias introduces the sixth level of fatness, he uses a deep monstrous growl, as if people in this level are not people, but animals. This part is interesting because in literature, nonhuman things are commonly given human characteristics, which is called personification. Rarely do we see the opposite, where human beings are being dehumanized to animals or monsters. Therefore, this comes at a shock to the audience, which makes the joke more comical. Furthermore, he illustrates his comical personality by making realistic situations ridiculous and by showing a contrast between the normal and the absurd. This manipulation of his setting is illustrated as Iglesias uses the elevator example where he changes the otherwise normal setting into a setting of fear. Iglesias’s elevator example is used to elicit an even greater roar of laughter from the audience. In addition, he uses this contrast between the normal and absurd through the exceptionally quick escalation of his “levels of fatness.” He starts off this bit by naming the first four levels of fatness: big, healthy, husky, and fluffy, of which he includes himself. However, the level right above his is “DAMN!” and there is a very visible gap between fluffy and “DAMN!” in the way he portrays it through his voice. However, when it seems as if there can be no level worse than “DAMN!”, Iglesias hits the audience with the sixth level: “OH HELL NO!” In this way, Iglesias uses his comic character, his outlandish voices and his contrasts between normal and absurd to deliver the biggest punchline of the joke, perfectly capturing the way his humor is built.
In today’s society, being overweight (or in his terms being “fluffy”) is often ridiculed or looked down on. However, Gabriel Iglesias does not look down on overweight people, like himself, making light of them in his jokes and in this way finding a medium to accept his weight, and ultimately spreading body positivity. He finds himself in a special position considering that if an outsider were to make similar jokes against the obese, it would be unacceptable and viewed as rude and distasteful. However, due to his own weight, Gabriel Iglesias is given the opportunity to talk about a situation and find the humor out of it, allowing him to tackle the cultural prejudice against overweight people. He further utilizes this platform by making a connection between others who may be viewed as overweight and outsiders of that situation by talking about his love of food, an interest shared by both groups. In this way, Iglesias not only garners laughter from his overweightness but an acceptance of overweight people and, ultimately, spreads body positivity and self esteem.
Ultimately, Gabriel Iglesias uses both his high-spirited persona and his body positivity to reach various types of people through his comedy. He does not use his jokes trivially, but makes the most out of them by making the realistic into ridiculous and giving his work charismatic qualities. By giving his words animation, Iglesias really makes his jokes enjoyable and humorous to listener of all ages. Additionally, he is able to mitigate the great divide among the overweight and the outsiders through his comical quotes that are accepted by both groups. In conclusion, Gabriel Iglesias does an astounding job of bringing together people of differing crowds through his comedy.