It’s been about three years since Mexican-American stand-up comedian, Gabriel Iglesias, “Fluffy”, last graced the stage at Casino Rama. This year the super popular comedian is celebrating 20 years of an incredibly successful career as a stand-up comic, writer and actor. The man speaking to the packed sold-out house Friday night was a little more toned down, a little grumpier and a little more foul-mouthed than audiences are used to. He may not have said anything that night, but a lot has happened to the usually cheerful and affable guy who kills it telling funny stories and who has made an incredibly successful career at that.

After spending a lot of 2017 dealing with a nervous breakdown (after he cancelled his tour at the beginning of the year citing health issues— diabetes, alcohol and depression) 2018 saw the comedian get back on the comedy horse with his new show “One Show Fits All”. As those of us who have seen him a few times before know, his style is one of situational storytelling and anecdotes based on his everyday life. His stories are laugh-out-loud-until-your-stomach-hurts hilarious and his longevity in this brutally cutthroat business is proof of that. This night, however, although in as good comedic form as ever, he appeared a little darker, and as he admitted, a little more grumpy, swearing a little more and even having a little tit-for-tat with an audience member (in Fluffy’s defence, the kid pretended to be Australian and the bit went on for a while, which really irked the comedian). “This is not me,” said Iglesias. “I’m usually known for building relationships not flipping someone off or swearing”. Part of the reason, he admitted, is because he is now in his 40s and age (along with its pains and aches) is catching up to him. But to the benefit of his legions of fans, getting older and having a teenager at home (his long-time girlfriend’s son Frankie from another relationship) have given him a lot of fodder for comedy gold. He told stories of meeting Snoop Dog, with whom he totally fangirled on. Although unlike teenage fangirls (hopefully), he actually smoked a giant joint with the rapper. On camera. You can see the encounter on YouTube, folks. True story.

More funny anecdotes ensued: about being the parent of a 19-year-old son, about life, about his driver, Dave and about his trips overseas. About his timer. There were a lot of really funny stories about this timer of his. And that is the essence of Fluffy’s success: anything and everything becomes an incredibly funny anecdote, and when he tells it, if feels as if you’re hanging out with him at a barbeque or having him as a guest in your own living room. He has a gift for making the audience feel so connected to him, so engaged, as if there were a group of 3 or 4 friends just hanging out, listening to him tell funny jokes. An audience member sneezed and he paused to say “Bless you”. He told a story about Australia and talked to someone in the audience sitting all the way to the back because she was from Adelaide. The interaction continued throughout the story. He talked to the cameraman. He gave props to the lights and technical people and everyone who had anything to do with the show at the venue. He’s that kind of artist: one who could easily be your buddy from work or a friend you hang out with occasionally. And one who makes you laugh till you cry.

Oh, and he had not just one, but three opening acts. They are all his friends and all great at the craft as well. That’s also the kind of comedian Gabriel Iglesias is. He is one who gives opportunities to other comedians, even 20 years after finding astronomical success in the industry. He’s a highly likeable guy, but more than anything, a hilariously funny and overall clean comic. The show ran late, and as he admitted this is pretty much the norm with him, but the night felt so comfortable and with such great stories, that he could’ve gone on for a few more hours and nobody would’ve left the building until he was done. And as Fluffy walked off the stage, he left the audience looking forward to the next time he visits Canada. We’re sure he will have many new crazy funny stories to tell.