“This is something very different. Something very special for myself. I’ve had the opportunity of doing many specials on TV, and TV shows, and I think it’s about time that a comedian who has a lot of clout in the business uses that clout to help the next up-and-coming comedian. And the person who I’m bringing up here is not just some random comic. He’s a friend who I’ve known for my entire career. He’s from San Antonio, Texas. And we were actually roommates for a couple of years. This guy, he helped me with my last special, Aloha Fluffy. He’s got some incredible credits. He’s amazing. He’s very talented. And you guys are gonna love him. I want you guys to put your hands together and show your love — all the way from San Antonio, Texas — for my friend, Mr. Rick Gutierrez!”
That’s Gabriel Iglesias, Fluffy himself, making the introduction to the audience in the crowd and for you at home watching Rick Gutierrez at the top of his first comedy special, “I’m Not Mad, I’m Just a Parent!”, which premieres Saturday night on NUVOtv.
Here’s a less informal promo teaser clip with Iglesias and Gutierrez:
Gutierrez got on the phone yesterday with The Comic’s Comic. He was in a good mood already, just hours before tip-off of Game 4 of the NBA Finals featuring his hometown San Antonio Spurs against the Miami Heat, a rematch from 2013.
“The game before this one, I don’t know what happened. We needed more sponsorship money!” Gutierrez joked to me yesterday afternoon. But still, he remained hopeful that 2014 would not be a repeat of 2013 for the team from San Antonio. “I think the Spurs will take it! I’m kinda hoping they finish the series out quickly. The Spurs got a bunch of old men out on the field. It’s going to be a really great game.”
Gutierrez is no spring chicken himself. About a decade ago, he had a development deal with HBO to turn his life and stand-up into a cable sitcom. He’s made appearances on NBC’s old Friday Night Videos and BET’s Comic View; a few years ago, Iglesias also featured him on his Comedy Central showcase series, Stand-Up Revolution. And yet, at 51, this is his first hourlong stand-up special.
When he was younger, he says: “I used to be a homebody. Had kids.”
What’s changed now: His kids are grown. And he’s since divorced.
“It’s good changes, you know,” he said. “Now, trying to figure out where my life is, as a single man, being 51.” One thing’s for certain: “The hookups are different now! I’m fatter, I’m uglier. It’s so difficult!”
At least he can laugh at himself. As for kids these days — well, that about sets the tone for his hour, I’m Not Mad, I’m Just a Parent! One of six kids himself, Gutierrez spends a lot of time onstage reflecting on what it was like growing up then, and how easy children have it now — and how that makes life more difficult for the rest of us grown-ups.
“We do a big disservice to our children now, for what we teach them,” he says. Back in the day: “We had discipline. Things in our lives that we did, that we wrote books about and said ‘Don’t do that.’ We grew up with sticks and rocks, and yet we learned to read and write.” Kids these days. Kids now, he jokingly rants, spend all their time indoors playing videogames and being treated with too much sensitivity.
“It’s so sensitive to their needs,” he says. “What the fuck do you have to be depressed about? I’ve got bills!”
Gutierrez says he tried not to curse too much on his NUVOtv special — they do blur out a few words and a hand gesture here and there — while maintaining his edge.
“For the most part, I’m very animated. I’m very vocal about things. I didn’t grow up in a PC family. We had Archie Bunker, for Christ’s sake,” he said. When he uses the word “retarded,” for example, it’s because he’s talking about a specific real-life situation that happened between him and a retarded person. “And yet we’re not sensitive to each other. It makes me laugh when I think about what I have to say (onstage), and then people come up to me afterward and agree with me.”
He has two children himself; a 16-year-old daughter in private school, and a son, grown and college-educated.
With his special debuting this weekend, his ideal Father’s Day follow-up is simple enough: “Just talk to my kids. Look at them. Go, ‘Hey, you’re part of me, I’m part of you.’ That makes me feel good. Every day is a blessing when you know your kids are doing well. They’re not in jail. They’re not in trouble…you can sit back and relax and let all your nurturing work out.” To him, it’s more about memories and less about receiving stuff as presents. He recalls taking his son fishing for the first time. “It was a small creek. I threw my line out. My son looked at me and he just jumped in. I said, ‘Oh shit!’ I jumped in and grabbed him.” Then afterward, he’d tell his son: “I love you, because I almost died for you. Don’t be an asshole!”
His relationship with Iglesias isn’t quite that paternal. Perhaps more like a big brother.
“I’m one of the older comics,” Gutierrez said. “I get passed by for a lot of stuff because of my age. Comedy Central, the comedy channel, whatever you want to call it, they want young and vibrant. I’m not that way. I talk about things that most kids will cringe at. But I find at my shows, more and more people will come up and tell me I’m like their uncle.” Reaching 18-year-olds or 20-year-olds that way, “that’s fun for me.”
Iglesias mentioned he helped him on Aloha Fluffy. Define “helped”?
“I kinda fell into that spot. I used to teach comics a long time ago,” Gutierrez said. “I tend to look for things. I would sit there and watch his shows. Gabriel is so prolific as a comic, that when he starts riffing, it’s like jazz. It’s so great. So prolific.”
“I’m like a hard drive. I sit there and take notes. I’m more of a collaborator. I’m not a writer for him, because he doesn’t need help writing. ‘It’s better here if you do this,’ or ‘watch your body language.’ I help people. It’s always good to have a second set of eyes so you can get better at what your doing.”
And he sees Iglesias’ new special, The Fluffy Movie (which debuts as a concert film in July 2014), as a project that’ll take his friend’s career to the next level.
Gutierrez said teaching comics always has been a part of his life and career. “When I first started, I just went from club to club. I saw there was a need for comics to at least know how to write a decent set,” he said. He counts hundreds of comics who have come to him for guidance over the years. Including Nick Guerra (as seen on this season of Last Comic Standing) and Dustin Ybarra. “Almost a few hundred people went through it. I never charged them a dime. I just never did it. Just going out there and giving my opinion to help make people a better comic. Not to be so selfish about it.”
In turn, he’s grateful that Iglesias was unselfish enough to shepherd Gutierrez’s first hour special through to NUVOtv this weekend.
“He’s always been a friend of mine. And we’ve been in some tough spots where he’s been a really good friend to me. He saw that I got passed by over the years and he felt it’s time,” Gutierrez said. “Coming from him, and him telling me I’m funny…it means a lot to me. It meant a lot as a friend, too.”
Here’s another example of Iglesias paying it back and forward to Gutierrez earlier this year, resurrecting a deleted clip of his from the Comedy Central showcase series, Stand Up Revolution.