We can all use a good laugh, especially this year, and Netflix’s Mr. Iglesias starring Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias is delivering them line by line. The comedy series is about a good-natured high school history teacher who helps out his misfit students and colleagues. In an interview with CinemaBlend, Gabriel Iglesias shared the original idea for his character’s job and why it was changed to avoid being a racial stereotype.
After binge-watching the first three parts of Mr. Iglesias, it’s hard to imagine the titular character as anything but a teacher. The fantastic cast including Sherri Shepherd as the school’s principal and Jacob Vargas as Gabe (Iglesias)’s fellow teacher and best friend works so well and feels totally natural. The young cast (Cree Cicchino, Fabrizio Guido and Coy Stewart, to name just some of the students) is just as skilled as the seasoned. But as I learned when I got the opportunity to sit down with Gabriel Iglesias, high school wasn’t the original idea for the story or the setting. Here’s what he told me:
Originally the idea was: I was going to be a mechanic who had his own mechanic shop and all the other mechanics that were working there under me were kind of like the troubled employees, if you will, and I was going to be the guy that's always helping everybody out. And so it's one of those when I was talking to the other producers we were trying to figure out, ‘Uh, does this make sense?’ And I'm like, how about we not make the Mexican lead a mechanic? How about we do something that's not so, you know, stereotypical of a role. And I told them that I was offered an opportunity to be a school teacher back in the day, and they liked the idea that I'll have a classroom full of kids. It's more organic for me because I get to be in front of an audience, and it's still like a stage, if you will.
So Mr. Iglesias was almost about a mechanic! Imagine the show without the amazing kids and teachable moments. While I’m sure it would’ve still been hilarious, I’m glad they decided to go the teacher route, both to avoid perpetuating a stereotype and also because the concept just works. Beyond seeing the character Mr. Iglesias teach his students, friends and co-workers both school and life-related lessons, the series has become an educational platform for viewers as well.
Mr. Iglesias tackles subjects like race, class, relationships and culture, to name a few. It provides an inside look at how the world is perceived from multiple perspectives. The show is a comedy through and through, but also has well placed heart-to-hearts and teachable moments for both the characters and the audience. Gabriel Iglesias credits this to the writing team. In his own words,
Having really good writers on the show is why it's so educational, because that wouldn't have happened from me. If it was up to me, it would just be funny and you might learn something every now and then, but one of the cool parts is that every week I was learning something new. Every week, I became a little bit more educated on where the world is at and I became a little bit more woke, you know, I don’t want to sound like the old guy, ‘If that's what these kids are saying nowadays, I became a little bit more woke.’ But yeah, whether it had to do with issues in school, whether it was with the clear backpack situation that we had going on, or just touching on anything that was potentially controversial - which is stuff that I normally stay away from in my stand-up act on purpose. So this was me stepping out of the box and I caught a little bit of flack for it. But yeah, every week I was learning something new.
To correct my earlier point, Mr. Iglesias contains teachable moments for the characters, audience and cast. Sounds like Gabriel Iglesias has learned a lot himself working on the show, and stepping outside of his comfort zone is part of what has helped make the series so fantastic. Let that be a lesson to us all: growth doesn’t happen in the comfort zone, people.
Part 3 of Mr. Iglesias is now available on Netflix. If you like stand-up comedy, Gabriel Iglesias has two specials titled Gabriel Iglesias: I'm Sorry For What I Said When I Was Hungry and Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias: One Show Fits All. Here at CinemaBlend we also have recommendations for those of you looking for something a little darker that still makes you laugh.