What do stand-up comics do when they need to let off a little steam in the midst of filming a television show in Hawaii? Book a gig at the historic Hawaii Theatre, of course.
That was the premise of Gabriel Iglesias’ return to the location of his 2013 Comedy Central television special, “Aloha Fluffy,” despite packing crowds in at Blaisdell Arena during more recent visits to Honolulu.
This week’s show “wasn’t supposed to happen,” he explained.
“Some of you are probably questioning what’s going on,” said Iglesias. “We wanted to have one night where we get to have some fun.”
The night’s four opening comics — Martin Moreno, G Reilly, Alfred Robles and Rick Gutierrez — are all in town this week shooting scenes with Iglesias for the second season of his Fuse TV show, “Fluffy Breaks Even.” When the episode airs in April, expect to see Fluffy and friends eating at Koko Head Cafe and taking part in a mud run at Kualoa Ranch among other adventures.
Thursday’s performance was so last-minute, however, Iglesias didn’t have one of his signature aloha shirts to wear on stage. He opted instead for a black “Star Wars” T-shirt with jean shorts and black sneakers while noting the irony of being unable to find an aloha shirt that fits him properly in the place they originated.
Much of Thursday’s 93-minute set felt like what one might expect to find at an intimate comedy club instead of a venue like Hawaii Theatre; after a few well-scripted jokes at the start, it felt like Iglesias started to wing it and experiment with some newer material as well as anecdotes about his visits to Hawaii. Stories about his fear of beach sand and an encounter with a sea turtle and its human protectors were interspersed between more mainstream laughs inspired by his now 18-year-old son, Frankie, the frustration of dealing with motion sensors in the bathroom and how Jaegermeister can be the fuel behind a unique style of abdominal workout.
Iglesias wrapped things up with an impromptu question and answer session with the audience, mentioning a number of upcoming projects in the works like working on a sitcom pilot for ABC and starring roles in a number of animated films, including an adaptation of Disney’s 1930s classic cartoon, “Ferdinand the Bull.” He closed the night with a victory lap of sorts, telling two classic jokes about Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a Volkswagen Beetle he used to drive that are so well-known they had the crowd finishing Iglesias’ lines for him.
After more than a dozen trips to Hawaii, its Iglesias’ familiarity with island culture and willingness to tailor his jokes to local audiences that make him so popular here. His fans will overlook multiple references to “Hawaiian shirts” because he also points out the “high maka makas” in the audience and isn’t afraid of telling a politically incorrect joke about Micronesian immigrants. His passable pidgin accent helps, too.
Jason Genegabus has covered the local entertainment, nightlife, music and bar scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and read his blog at honolulupulse.com/in-the-mix.