It's an unwritten rule in stand-up comedy that jokes early in one's act should be about one's own physical appearance.
And for years, Gabriel Iglesias shot from both barrels: He's Hispanic and he's overweight.
But the 34-year-old comic is scaling back his material on the former and working hard to erase the latter.
"I do bring up my weight because it is an issue," he said in a telephone interview from New York City. "Now I'm talking about how I'm trying to lose weight ... and some of the problems I've had.
"People say, ‘What would happen if you lose all this weight? Would you still be funny?' And I go into this whole thing about me not being fat anymore. It's a little different, and I'm taking my chance at losing this whole ‘fluffy' image," he added.
Iglesias' catchphrase, "I'm not fat, I'm fluffy," is a hit on his website as well, where the T-shirts available for sale go up to size 6X and, by special order, 10X.
"I can make them in 1X, too," he said.
Audiences at his shows are about 40 percent Hispanic and 60 percent white, he said, except in his home base of Los Angeles, where the mix is more 80/20.
"In the beginning, when I was doing my shows, I was incorporating a lot of Spanish, just trying to be a Latino comic instead of just a comic," he said. "Now I try to make the show as broad as possible. ... I don't want to alienate people. I want to make it so everybody can follow along and everybody can relate."
His broader appeal has him playing in Europe and the country of Jordan, where he was asked to return to an international comedy festival.
Iglesias performs Saturday night at the Adler Theatre in downtown Davenport. He's moved up from nightclubs to theaters in the past two years, during about 2009.
"That year we started in clubs and ended up the year in theaters. I'm like, ‘Wow, how did that happen?' " he said. "I think I was ready for theaters a year prior. It's just that I was so comfortable inside the club setting that I didn't want to break away from that."
Iglesias says it's a thrill to walk out on a theater stage.
"There's definitely more of an ego feed when you go out there to a roar and not a little (sound of weak giggling)," he said. "It's a thrill like you can't believe, working in a theater."
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On the downside, "you can't really enjoy the city you're in because you're only there for just one night and you've gotta go," he said, as opposed to sometimes-weeklong stints in clubs. "At a club, you get to know the people and the city. It's more grassroots."
Clubs are "more forgiving," he added.
"You get to work at your craft a lot more at a club. You can't go out there and test your stuff on people for what might and might not work," he said. "The more stuff you have, the better you are down the line because it doesn't become stale."
Unlike many of his fellow comics, Iglesias has no designs on making his way into TV or movies. His goal, he said, is a series of comedy specials in which he would introduce his friends and rising comics to a larger audience.
"I wanted to be a comedian and this is what I'm doing. If I can keep this going, I'm happy," he said.