It doesn’t take long for “The Fluffy Movie,” a documentary about the comic Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias in performance, to violate a cardinal rule in cinema: Never allude to a film better than your own.
A prologue presents a kind of origin story, a reenaction of the first meeting between Fluffy’s mother and father. “In 1975,” in Tijuana, Fluffy’s mom listens to a mariachi band. She makes eyes at the handsome lead singer. “Nine Months Later” she’s giving birth; “12 Years Later” the young Fluffy chortles at a VHS tape of “Eddie Murphy Raw”; and “25 Years Later” the laughs from the Murphy film blend into those greeting Fluffy in a big arena in San Francisco.
Dream on, Fluffy.
For the most part, Fluffy’s material is just that — fluff, with a touch now and then of bile and bad taste. He spends 10 minutes introducing friends and staff, who are met with applause. Even the stage set — a Golden Gate bridge and night-time San Francisco cityscape — gets a shout out and a hand, though Fluffy’s image on the full moon draws another unfortunate comparison to a funnier comedian — Jackie Gleason.
Then the schtick: how he went to a clinic for the morbidly obese for a consultation (he weighed 445 pounds at the time), a story which gives him an opportunity to do a “Fat Albert”-like imitation of someone bigger than himself. He describes how he got drunk at a bar and a gay guy tried to pick him up, allowing for some mildly offensive lisping and mincing. Remarks about a friend’s late-night mating habits disclose a misogynist streak. You can tell when a comedy concert film is trying too hard by the frequency of the cutaways to audience members convulsed with delight.
Then Fluffy delves into the stuff that really makes comedy happen: trauma and pathology. Laughter at his relationship with his stepson becomes strained when he talks about how he gets the kid’s goat by describing his sex life with the boy’s mother. Then, before you can say Oedipal complex, he says, “Time to get real,” and tells the story about how, after 30 years, he and his father finally got in touch.
It does get real. It just isn’t very funny.Peter Keough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.