Prime time sitcom? Late-night talk show? HBO comedy specials? Roles in award-winning indie dramas? George Lopez has done it all.
And we've always been able to count on him to tell it like it is.
"I'm not the deepest comedian out there," he told OnMilwaukee.com. "But people laugh a lot."
Lopez is returning to his stand-up roots with in the "That's the America I Live In" tour, which comes to The Riverside this Friday. He sat down with OnMilwaukee.com to talk about what inspires his comedy, the upcoming presidential election and, of course, his good friend Sandra Bullock.
OnMilwaukee.com: So what can the audience expect on Friday at The Riverside?
George Lopez: I do a lot of things. I do movies, voices, obviously the sitcom was very successful, but stand-up is how I’ve always expressed myself freely because there isn't an editor, there aren't guidelines. My stand-up has always been about relationships and about kids.
You know, the other day I went to the airport and I saw this kid - he probably had to be 15 years old – sucking his thumb, leaning on his mom ... and that's allowed, you know? There's this thing where parents want to be friends with their kids. That's really big. You know, my daughter is 16 now and I think she tried to suck her thumb, um ... but I think the chilli I put on her thumbnail kept her from making it a habit.
I understand; I get it. You want to be loved (as a parent), of course. But you also to have to be firm, you have to become and stay parental, so there’s a lot of that that I never thought I would be talking about but I see it so much that I have to. A kid never hears "no" anymore. We raise our kids with words like "supposed to" and "almost."
OMC: How does it feel to be George Lopez these days?
GL: It doesn’t suck! It’s pretty good, but there is – you know, it’s funny, there’s almost a narrative to my everyday life. Like if I go out somewhere everybody knows who I am because of the show ("George Lopez" ran on ABC from 2002 to 2007 and "Lopez Tonight" ran on TBS from 2009 to 2011). It’s never "George," it’s always "George Lopez," with the two words. And I got to tell you, I enjoy it. It can be annoying at times but only because we go through different moods as people. But in the end, I think it’s great.
OMC: In what ways are you different from the George Lopez that people see on TV and the George that you really are?
GL: You know, I was golfing yesterday and a guy said to me, "You know, I can see that you’re a little bit like an introvert," and I said "Yeah, you can see that?" And he’s like, "Yeah, you still got your thing but when I see you you’re much bigger and broader and louder. I kind of like that. I kind of like the way you kind of scale it down."
The thing is, whenever somebody is manic – you know Robin Williams had this reputation for being manic all the time – and to see that or be around it a lot, first of all you know how annoying it is. There’s a better, more peaceful place to just simmer. You know? The fire’s not completely up but not completely down. So I simmer when I’m not working. I simmer.
OMC: You're a supporter of President Obama in the upcoming election. Since you'll be performing in Wisconsin, do you think you'll poke some fun at Paul Ryan?
GL: Well, Romney, probably. Obama for sure and Paul Ryan … I haven’t figured Paul Ryan out yet. You know, and I’m a big supporter of the President, but I don’t try to convince people to do something that’s not natural to them other than just to tell them to vote. Voting is a big thing. My grandmother never really taught me many lessons other than, you know, to get out of her life and this side of the refrigerator is hers, but one thing she did instill in me is to vote every election.
OMC: One of my favorite things you’ve done is playing the corrupt Mayor Hernandez of Reno in "Reno 911!" Since it’s an election year, I want to ask you: do you think Mayor Hernandez would endorse Obama or Romney in the election?
GL: Oh, that’s a pretty good one. I believe that Mayor Hernandez – who I love very much, I was in Reno yesterday – would endorse Romney. Because he loves that lifestyle – that big, rich, you got an elevator for my car, always ready to go, he’s got money in other countries. I think Mayor Hernandez would be a huge Romney supporter.
OMC: Do you keep up with the cast of your sitcom "George Lopez?"
GL: Eva Longoria and I just did the Alma Awards which will air Friday, and I invited Emiliano Diez, the guy who played my father-in-law, he’s wonderful. And then I saw Constance (Marie) who played my wife – she won an award actually for "Separated at Birth," that show that she’s on on ABC Family.
So it’s good, it’s great to see her and you really think about how much time we spent together – you know, for our people and people who watch sitcoms, her and I are like a couple. Like if you’re baseball fans and two guys play together for 10 years, or five years together, like Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, they go together. Me and Constance go together.
OMC: Lastly, please tell us that Sandra Bullock is as awesome in real life as she seems on TV.
GL: She’s probably even more. She’s very genuine. A very sweet, genuine person and, you know, very private, which I respect a lot. I’m not sure ever where she is but I know she’s having a great time surrounded by good people – but if I email her or call her or reach out to her I always get a response immediately.
For information about George Lopez's upcoming show at The Riverside, click here.
Colleen Jurkiewicz is a Milwaukee native with a degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she loves having a job where she learns something new about the Cream City every day. Her previous incarnations have included stints as a waitress, a barista, a writing tutor, a medical transcriptionist, a freelance journalist, and now this lovely gig at the best online magazine in Milwaukee.