When I was growing up, there was zero traveling in my life. All I knew was Long Beach, California. My first actual trip was to Tucson, Arizona, and it was the biggest deal ever. Back then, my only goal was to make enough money to pay my rent. I tell people, “Let that be a lesson in your life: Just set your bar really low, so then when you pass it, you’re just like, Wow!”
Now I’ve been to 26 countries. I’ve been to Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Qatar, Kuwait, Canada, Lebanon, India, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Jordan… I’ve been on a bajillion trips, and a lot of them have been just insane. (Like the time I saw Kanye West in a VIP airport lounge bathroom in Sweden.)
But when I first started out touring, I was afraid of traveling outside of the U.S. You know, you get comfortable. I just wasn’t sure what was going to happen, and if I would be relatable. As it was, just going from California to Florida, I’d be like, “Are they going to get me?” But in 2009, when I did a comedy festival in Amman, Jordan, I realized that, thanks to the internet, the world is a small place, and being able to relate to humor is not as hard as people think. We all understand YouTube and Netflix and McDonald’s and Subway and Starbucks; that’s stuff that you can talk about everywhere.
For me, touring is a lot of hotels and lobbies and airports and shuttle buses and Ubers. I wish I had more stories about enjoying the cities and the sights, but I usually don’t have time. I did get to hang out in Jordan, though, and it was pretty awesome. After the show, we got invited to the palace, and we had dinner with the King and Queen of Jordan. It was nighttime when we went to the palace, and I didn’t realize how impressive it was until we walked in: Super-impressive. Without being too graphic, let’s just say I used a gold toilet. Gold.
The king is super into the culinary world, and he loves to cook. He made us some of the most amazing Wagyu steaks. I was just like, “Are you kidding me? A king just made me dinner!” I kept repeating that all night.
Being in Jordan, you’re always aware that you’re in a different place. It feels very Biblical, like you’re stepping into the past. We went to Petra, which was beautiful. When you see what they did with rock—the fact the facade was carved out of one piece of rock—it’s crazy. It’s so precise, you can’t help but think they had lasers or something. You know, we make mistakes. I’ve got a contractor who I’ve overpaid several times, who has broken so many freakin’ levels and pieces of wood and keeps having to go back to Home Depot: “Oh, I messed up, I have to do it again!” So how is it that they created this thing that’s so precise and still is intact? I don’t care what you say—they got help.
I’m very fortunate to get to explore and do things that a regular average Joe wouldn’t get to do. And I’ve found that as long as I’m respectful of other people’s customs and traditions and the way that they function, that really does go a long way. It helps me to connect with so many different places and cultures and people—and it means that they might invite me to come back.
On May 7, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias will be the first comedian to headline a stand-up show at Dodger Stadium, as part of Netflix Is a Joke: The Festival. For more info, visit netflixisajokefest.com.
Next Up: How Actor Zazie Beetz’s Fairytale French Vacation Went Awry