George Lopez keeps comedy in high gear
By Josh Bell
Photography by Jerry Avenaim
Styling by Michelle Cruz
Styling assistant: Nancy Medrano
Grooming by Aimee Circosta
George Lopez has been a sitcom star (his eponymous show still airs regularly in repeats on Nick at Nite), a talk-show host (on TBS’ Lopez Tonight until last year) and the voices of an animated Chihuahua (in the Beverly Hills Chihuahua movies), a Smurf and a toucan (in Rio and its upcoming sequel), but his first love is stand-up comedy. “The stand-up part is like the engine,” he says. “It’s the thing that started everything.”
Lopez has been performing his stand-up comedy in Las Vegas since 1987, and despite the family-friendly nature of his sitcom and his animated voice work, his comedy act is very much for adults. “I’m an adult, so the humor is adult,” he says. “It says on the ticket, ‘For mature audiences,’ so I don’t mislead anybody. And once I do that, I’ve taken care of the responsibility of letting people know it’s going to be adult.” People in Las Vegas certainly don’t shy away from a little blue humor, and Lopez has always found a warm reception in town.
“I like to golf, so I golf,” Lopez says of his favorite Vegas activity, and he also mentions restaurants including Botero and Switch Steak at Encore as favorite places to visit when he’s in town. “Anything Wolfgang Puck is great,” he says, but then again, “I still like Cheesecake Factory.” Lopez is also a fan of vintage Vegas, which he remembers from his early days performing in the city. “If I ever want to go old-school, I go get a 99-cent cocktail downtown,” he says. “I actually liked Fremont Street without it being covered. It’s a little bit done now, but I liked it when it was open.”
Lopez also has at least one Vegas pastime that he no longer indulges in. “I’ve been a fan of the gentlemen’s clubs as well,” he says. “I don’t anymore, but I did love them at one particular time.” When asked about a favorite Vegas memory, he comes up with something a little tamer, recalling hanging out backstage at a Natalie Cole show at the Las Vegas Hilton.
“Me and the other guy I was working with went with some friends to get in backstage, and they were with Natalie Cole, and I remember she was eating Cheetos and drinking soda on the couch,” he says. “And then we snuck away on the stage and were doing kicks and Elvis thrusts and gyrating, and then the security guard got us.”
Lopez probably won’t be doing any Elvis thrusts onstage at the Terry Fator Theatre at The Mirage, but he puts plenty of energy and enthusiasm into his stand-up. “If you’re passionate about what you do, then something should make you angry, whether it’s your neighbor’s sprinkler hitting your car or the immigration system in the United States,” he says, indicating the diverse range of topics he talks about in his act. “Things should move the needle. I still have things that move the needle.” That engine of Lopez’s is revving up and raring to go.