George Lopez Talks Tempe Improv's Closure, His New Fox Dating Show, Joking About Latinos in Arizona, and More

Comedian George Lopez
Comedian George Lopez

Most comedians might just enter into a deep depression or go on a serious drinking binge after getting canned from the biggest gig of their entire career. Not so with George Lopez.

The 51-year-old comic, whose late-night TBS talk show Lopez Tonight was cancelled last summer after only two seasons, has plenty on his plate this summer. He's got a new hourlong HBO special, It's Not Me, It's You, debuting July 14 and is hosting the new Fox dating show Take Me Out, which premieres on June 7. Plus, Lopez is paying visits to comedy clubs and venues across the country, including a two-night performance at Celebrity Theatre this weekend.

Jackalope Ranch recently spoke with Lopez about his two upcoming TV gigs, as well as his feelings about the soon-to-close Tempe Improv (where he's previously appeared several times), as well as what it's like for a Latino comic to perform in Arizona in the SB 1070 era.

A lot of your humor involves poking fun at Latinos and day laborers and such. Are you trying to make a statement about racial issues in any way? It's not attempted to be anything other than my truth. And it's not as deep as I think it could be, because you don't want to harp on one thing for so long when you've got people who paid good money to see you perform. It's not a lecture. So if it something that can be funny on both side, then I'll do it. But I'm not something going to pontificate on for 25 minutes about the inequities of the state. I just want people to have a good time and let the politics work themselves out. When people come to see me, I just want them to laugh.

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Are you surprised that the anti-immigration crowd or supporters of SB 1070 enjoy your jokes about Latinos? Oh, yeah, they laugh, too. But when you have that demographic and that particular law, it's counterintuitive humor. When people are prepared to take those jobs back from the people who have taken them away, have at it. Because if someone says that an illegal alien took their job, then they got a fucked-up job. Because they don't do the jobs that white-collar people do. There aren't any illegal aliens becoming the CEO of any major company.

It's been predicted that the Latino population will continue increasing in Arizona and that whites will be in the minority within the next 50 years. What's your reaction to that? Well, I would just like to be living when that becomes official. I would like to be alive when that happens. That would be something to see because of all that Arizona has had to endure beginning with [disgraced former governor Evan] Mecham, [Jan] Brewer, and Sheriff Joe [Arpaio], probably the most disliked sheriff in America. You know, if he and Brewer had a child, that kid would get its ass kicked in school every day [when whites will be in the minority]. With all the characters like Brewer and Arpaio in Arizona and when that eventually happens, despite all the best efforts to not let that happen, it's going to be interesting. I'd have a nice party.  

So you're hosting a new "dating reality" show on Fox called Take Me Out? I am. It's interesting. You don't think you could come up with a new concept for something that's been done to death, but they have. It's the craziest dating show I've ever seen.

What's the concept? Well, the concept is that I introduce 30 girls and they come down some stairs -- one even tripped last night -- and then they set up behind podiums that has a light that either stays on or off. Then I introduce the dude and, based on their first impressions, they decide whether to keep the light on or off. So if they turn it off, I ask them why, and they'll say, "I don't like the guy 'cause he's short" or "He's on steroids," or whatever. You hear some crazy stuff. And the one's that keep their light on tell me how they're into him.

And then, the next round they guy has a little videotape about his personal life and sometimes it's crazy. This one guy was a hunter and they all went out. As soon as they saw a bow and arrow, they all turned off their lights. If a guy can keep at least one light on by the end of the third round, he's got a date.

Do you get to crack a lot on both the girls and guys? Oh, yeah. Because there's stuff you read off the prompters, but it's just introductions. And the girls state what they think, which isn't scripted, and I just react off that. So you ask a girl, "Why do you like this guy?" and if it's because he speaks Italian and she says, "I like Italian sausage," you can go, "Oh, so you like sausage, huh?" It's crazy. You don't think those girls would go there, and they go everywhere. And they're all different personalities, different looks, and different ethnicities so you get a little bit of a different vibe from each of them.  

Does it feel good to getting back to your stand-up roots after the cancellation of Lopez Tonight? Well, I still did stand-up on the weekends during the talk show's run. I never really have disconnected from stand-up. I love it so much. The talk show was fun to do and I kinda did some stand-up there at the beginning of the shows. Since my sitcom ended in 2007 it's been an interesting five years. I've had a lot of fun.

Is it liberating to do jokes on HBO, where nothing is censored, after being on network television and basic cable for years? Oh, yeah. HBO never goes over stuff about what I should say or not say. They want to see the set, they look at it, they sign off on it, and say, "Whatever you want to do is okay with us." I've said some pretty crazy stuff for me and I expect this special will be just as crazy as the other ones I've done.

I'm guessing the HBO doesn't have a standards and practices department (a.k.a. censors) like TBS does? Yeah. With TBS every day was like, "Don't say that," "Don't do that," "That's too mean," "That's against women," and so on. Humor is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways and TBS only wanted it to cut one way. HBO has never been like that. That's why they've done so well with the specials and shows they've aired. I'm excited to be back in business with them.

You've performed a number of times in the Valley at the Tempe Improv. What's your reaction to its impending closure? Really? Why is it closing?

It's due to a lack of business and losing comics to a newer club Stand Up Live. Oh, wow, that's sad. I wasn't aware of that. Yeah, I have some great memories of that Improv. I almost wish they would've asked me to come by one more night before they close.

George Lopez is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19, at Celebrity Theatre. Tickets are $51-$69.50 in advance, $96 for VIP Pit access.

Lopez's new dating show Take Me Out premiers on Thursday, June 7, on KSAZ Channel 10.

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Celebrity Theatre

440 N. 32nd St.
Phoenix, AZ 85008-6205

602-267-0186

www.celebritytheatre.com


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