Growing up with practically nothing in Long Beach California, Gabriel Iglesias turned to comedy to get through the tough times. Little did he know that pursuing his passion for making people laugh, would take him on an incredible journey, which one day allowed him to purchase the cars of his dreams.
Words by Tony Matthews
Photography by Anthony Nunez
One thing that strikes me when I meet some people in life, where I have deep meaningful conversations, is that they have lost a passion that they use to enjoying doing so much. Why is that I thought? From what I can conclude, is that ‘Life’ got in the way! But life shouldn’t get in the way of you living out a passion. Sure, as you grow up you have to become more responsible and find a career that puts food on the table, but life is so much more than that.
There are many ways to make a lifestyle out of a passion that you have. One man who proved this, despite living with a lack of resources when he was growing up, is now one of America’s most successful stand-up comedians. His name is Gabriel Iglesias who grew up on the streets of Long Beach California, where his family lived in Section 8 housing. Growing up as the youngest of six children, Gabriel was raised by his single mother, which was a very difficult time for them all.
His mother was the strength of the family, making sure her children had the best chance of making it. Experiencing these hardships made Gabriel turn to sense of humour to deal with life’s obstacles and in the process, entertaining the family. As his passion for making people laugh grew, in 1997 he set out to hone his comedic skills and start to perform in as many places as possible.
He performed where ever he could find an audience and hustled very hard, so that he could provide his family with the best life they deserved. His act is far more than just making jokes. He brings a mixture of storytelling, parodies, characters and sound effects, which has made his shows very popular with his fans. So how did Gabriel come about finding the time to indulge in his other passion, Volkswagens? Well, as he started to make some good money and could afford to treat himself after all the hard work he had put into building his passion, it was time to find some vintage classics.
“My first car was a 1968 Volkswagen Bus and my best memory was the first time it started.” recalls Gabriel. It’s such a cool and iconic brand. You will see a Volkswagen Bus of Bug every single day, almost anywhere in the world. You can still play “Slug Bug!” That’s where it all started for Gabriel and the Volkswagen passion grew and grew, with him acquiring an incredible collection. He currently owns fifteen Volkswagens, of which three are classic Beetles and the rest are camper vans.
His favourite is his 1956 23 window Wolfsburg bus. To be able to find such classics, Gabriel needed some assistance. “Once I get started on a new passion, I work toward fulfilling it. I had the opportunity to go to Jay Leno’s garage and meet the guys that get his cars. They started to help me find Volkswagen’s and the rest is history” recalls Gabriel. Now how cool is that! Not only to hang out with Jay Leno, but to have his guy to help him out to find the best examples.
With his new found passion, Gabriel likes to get involved in the automotive community and you can see him hangout with Uncle Joe’s Garage and also indulge on a mouth-watering eating road trip with his eccentric tour mates and fellow comedians Martin Moreno and Rick Gutierrez on Fuse TV’s Fluffy Breaks Even! program. Was it an easy path for Gabriel to become successful and have that all time dream garage full of classics? “Of course not.
The path to success is filled with potholes. I’ve performed in restaurants, biker bars and hole-in-the-wall joints. I have been doing stand-up for 18 years and I always remember that everything could go away at any time, so I try to soak in the level of success I’m at now, recalls Gabriel. I can totally agree with him, nothing every great comes easy and you have to believe and hustle every day to make it happen. Any advice you would give to someone looking to live out their passion? Yours is making people laugh and cars. Follow your passion. Learn all you can about a given craft, hobby or line of work. If you want to be a comedian….you have to perform. A LOT. I never stop performing. If I don’t hit a stage once a week, it feels weird.