Harris: We are happy to welcome back to our guest microphone comedian George Lopez, who was one of the headliners at the first Paul Harris Comedy Concert for Children’s Hospital.
Lopez: It was great, wasn’t it?
Harris: Wasn’t that a nice night? And we’ve got another great night coming up, that’s on December 8th this year.
Lopez: Yeah, I saw your lineup and I urge everyone to go to that one, it’s going to be great.
Harris: Wendy Liebman and Will Durst and Jim Gaffigan, Bob Somerby, and The Reduced Shakespeare Company. Thank you for letting me plug that. Now let’s talk about you. How have you been? I saw you on Vibe, that Quincy Jones show, a couple of weeks ago. That’s on Channel 20 at 10 o’clock here.
Lopez: I jammed, man. Didn’t I?
Harris: You were very good on that show.
Lopez: I had just had some material put on hold for The Tonight Show that’s supposed to be happening in January. So I had to completely retool, since it’s all people of color as opposed to The Tonight Show, which is predominantly the midwest. I was in the middle, I didn’t know who I was, and I was like, “What the hell, what am I saying? Who am I?”
Harris: Is that what they’ll do? One show will say, “We love this part of your act, hold on to it?”
Lopez: “Hold onto it and don’t do anything of this set on any other show.” And I had a week to do Vibe, but they replaced my guy, Chris.
Harris: Yeah, Chris Spencer’s out and Sinbad’s coming in. Why are you laughing about Sinbad?
Lopez: Sinbad is…anytime they need a black man and they need him in a hurry, it’s Sinbad. He’s the guy, he’s the Roto-Rooter. Anytime you’re in trouble, call Sinbad!
Harris: I hear Sinbad said, “Yes, Quincy, I’ll do the show but only for a couple of months. Find somebody full time to do this.”
Lopez: It’s too bad that they didn’t give Chris a chance because Conan O’Brien ran for at least a year solid and was horrible the first year. He’s great now and to replace a guy two months in is just horrible.
Harris: Why didn’t they get you? Were you up for the job? You should have gotten that.
Lopez: I’d like to have had it, but I think they weren’t going to do anybody that hasn’t been proven yet. Plus Telemundo has offered me a talk show. I find that completely interesting that they want to get into English programming.
Harris: Now that’s a mistake for Telemundo.
Lopez: Telemundo, the guy who does the astrology is like seventy years old and he’s homosexual and all his predictions are that. “Hello, you are lady?” Click. He doesn’t want to talk to anybody but men. “I want men, call me, men. Lady, no. Your future, bye.” But Telemundo offered me a talk show and I thought that it is the loudest station on TV. You watch NBC, they’ve got the three little bells going ding, dong, ding. On Telemundo, they scream. That’s why if you ever drive by Latino neighborhoods and they’re all in the front yard at about 11 o’clock at night, it’s because it’s too loud in the house! My grandmother would yell at me, “Turn the television down.” My response was always the same, “I don’t know where the pliers are! What did you do with them? You used the oven last! What did you do with them?”
Harris: Not only is Telemundo a loud channel, but it is also the sweatiest channel on TV. They have to get air-conditioning at that studio or tone down some of the soap operas.
Lopez: The funniest thing to me is that they’ll do the same commercials, like Coast soap. “I like Coast because it’s the eye opener.” And you’ll see the same commercial in Spanish a lot louder. It’s almost like the way cavemen reacted to fire in “Quest for Fire.” They’re just so happy to see soap! “We must not tell anyone we have Coast. Don’t tell anyone. You are lady.” Click. I don’t know what’s going to happen TV- wise. I love Vibe but I think I’m going to jump and go over to Keenen.
Harris: Well, that seems to be the show of the two in the urban battle.
Lopez: The urban battle is being waged and I’m going over to Keenen.
Harris: Good, that’s the show to be on.
Lopez: I’ll take a fish for that tank and maybe I’ll suck up. That old Chevy Chase tank they have.
Harris: I’m surprised they put a tank on there. Didn’t Chevy’s fish all die on TV?
Lopez: They all died.
Harris: And so Keenen puts a fish tank on there. Let me ask about one TV thing you did. I always watch this show on Comedy Central called Make Me Laugh, right before The Daily Show. In the history of this show — and I watch it every night — nobody ever makes them laugh, and why would they? If you’re making money not to laugh, nobody’s going to make you laugh. You were funny, but was Marty Putz one of the guys on with you?
Lopez: Marty Putz was one of the guys. I made the guy laugh in 6 seconds. The guy was a bail bondsman. So they go, “He’s a bail bondsman who says George, make me laugh!” I said, “So you’re a bail bondsman. Do I look familiar to you?” The guy was on the floor in six seconds, it’s the record. That’s all I said and he starts rolling.
Harris: The idea of that show is that the comedians are trying to be as funny as they can and the people are fighting back laughter. As a comedian, we had Wendy Liebman on after she did the show, and she said that it was the most disgraceful thing in comedy.
Lopez: Right, because they pay people not to laugh for like a dollar a second. Very nice, our egos are completely gone. You’re hitting them with bombs and it’s almost like you’re boxing and you’re hitting someone with bombs and they’re not going down.
Harris: Not even that, they’re not even getting bruised. They’re not even turning a cheek.
Lopez: You almost have to do it because you almost have to keep up the money for the insurance. God forbid one of my teeth dies and I’m out there with a gray front tooth. I guess there’s always Denny’s night manager.
Harris: George, you were so good at the Paul Harris Comedy Concert For Children’s Hospital last year.
Lopez: Thanks. It was jam packed and it was a Monday night and it was just perfect. That’s what comedy is about. Plus, you give back and people are laughing. I remember some older Republican men coming up going, “You know, we are not really fans of your particular type of comedy, but we thought it was funny.” Well, thank you, I guess!
Harris: Kind of a half-hearted compliment there.
Lopez: Then I saw Paul in Las Vegas! I forget when it was.
Harris: About six weeks after that, I was on vacation in Vegas.
Lopez: He called me at the hotel and I was like, “How do I blow this dude out, man?”
Harris: He was playing the Improv over there and I came over after the show and George and I hung out for a while.
Lopez: I made friends with some of the maitre d’s at the shows, so I would go over and see Earth, Wind, and Fire and Bill Cosby. I met Bill Cosby and he said, “I saw you man on TV man doing the Spanish thing.” That’s what he told me, “All right, you’re doing the Spanish thing, that’s cool.”
Harris: “Doing the Spanish thing?” That’s a nice compliment from the Cos.
Lopez: “Doing the Spanish thing.” Okay, Cos, thank you. But I saw Siegfried and Roy for the first time. The white tigers look more human than Siegfried and Roy. You see the white tigers — and I don’t want to start any rumors — but the new baby white tiger has Roy’s eyes. You didn’t hear it from me.
Harris: I heard that Siegfried and Roy have split. That was a story that came out about a week or two ago.
Lopez: Yeah, but Roys are like Lassies man, they’ll pull a new Roy out of somewhere. They broke up, right? So that’s why all the flags at Dupont Circle are flying half-mast. I was like, “They’re flying half-mast, I wonder why?”
Harris: Hey, you weren’t here last week for the Louis Farrakhan Day of Atonement. I’m sorry about that.
Lopez: I actually want Latinos to do a Day of Atonement because we do a lot of things in this country and we don’t get a lot of recognition.
Harris: Could there be a Latino Million Man March?
Lopez: I think we could do the Million Man Nap, but not the March. I just think Farrakhan is always on, he’s always Reverend Farrakhan. If he went to McDonald’s he would be like, [in Farrakhan’s voice] “Yes I would like…one value meal…super size…with a Diet Coke.” And when he gets going, he’s a beautiful speaker, but it almost sounds like he’s doing 70s songs. He’s like, “I can turn the gray sky blue…I can make it rain whenever I want it to…I can build a castle from a single grain of sand…but I can’t get next to you, babe, can’t get next to you. Just sit right back…and you’ll hear a tale…a tale of a fateful trip…that started on this tropic port…aboard a tiny ship…the mate, who was a Jew…” Oh my God! Louis Farrakhan is killing me, man.
Harris: The skipper in a bow tie. I would pay to see it.
Lopez: “Mary Ann, you must atone for your Jezebel ways…why can’t we eat something else other than coconut cream pie?”
Harris: If you want to get into the Latino thing, I’ve got to ask you, there’s this new magazine in town called Capital Style and they put Jimmy Smits on the cover of the first issue because he’s always in town lobbying for what he calls Hispanic issues. You say Latino right?
Lopez: I just say issues. I don’t color code them.
Harris: I know one of the things you’re talking about a lot is how Latinos are getting short shrift, especially in the entertainment industry, right?
Lopez: Yeah, so we’re on the same page as far as that’s concerned. But I think there are good shows. Cheech is on Nash Bridges. That’s a great show. Cheech is very fine in that show, and he’s also one of my golfing buddies. It’s so funny because I never smoke, I never get high. I haven’t gotten high in 20 years and Cheech still gets high.
Harris: Is that right?
Lopez: So he says to me one day, “Hey, man, do you want to smoke?” And it’s almost like, you don’t want to but it’s Cheech! It’s almost like if Mickey Mantle said, “You want to play catch? Go get your glove.” You almost have to say, “Gee Mick, do you mean it?” You almost have to! I became him, man. Two guys, one Cheech and one trying to be Cheech. Just wild.
Harris: Cheech and Cheech, not the greatest act in the world.
Lopez: It was crazy.
Harris: Have you been getting any roles of any kind?
Lopez: I’m gone a lot so I don’t get a chance to. My friends are executive producers on the Wayans Brothers Network and they were going to give me a part, but the guy was a robber. I don’t want to do that. I’d let the tooth die. I think it’s important not to. I travel by myself and you see a lot of things and its always negative. Last week I was in Chicago and I go to breakfast by myself, and the lady looks at me and starts looking around and says, “We only accept applications between 10 and 2 in the afternoon.” And you almost have to laugh, man, because it’s so funny. So I said, “OK, I’ll be back.” It’s just so ridiculous that we’re almost invisible. Those things are funny to me and as long as they’re funny to me I’ll just continue to put them in the act. I run into all these stupid people.
Harris: I think it’s great that you can laugh at that.
Lopez: I think it’s important. I mean, maybe one day, who knows? I think that the way you see police, the brutality, like what happened to the guy in New York with the guy and the plunger. And then they say that the guy is recovering slowly. No lie, man! I wouldn’t be in any hurry to get back out onto the streets again. “The doctor says you’re free to go.” “No, I’m OK. This month could we try chocolate ice cream? I just want to sit here and have more ice cream.” Because when you see commercials like this for Just For Men hair color, it’s hilarious. The cop pulls the guy over and says, “This isn’t you, this is an older guy.” “Well, that’s because I’ve been using Just For Men.” I don’t know if that really happens in real-life nighttime scenarios. A cop pulls you over and says “Hey, this isn’t you.” “Yeah, I know, and in five minutes you’re going to find out this isn’t my car either.”
Harris: So can you picture a day when there is a Latino president who’s doing coffees at the White House and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars?
Lopez: Oh no, it wouldn’t even be coffees he gets in trouble with. “Did you hear about President Lopez? They caught him fixing his cousin Tooty’s parking tickets. He had an aunt who had a Denver boot on and he got it taken off. Man, I think they’re going to depeach him.”
Harris: George Lopez, thanks for coming.
Lopez: Thank you, Paul!
Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Phil Egenthal