George Lopez: "I've Never Been Happier to Not Be a White Male"

On the heels of announcing his own late night talk show with TBS—slated to premiere in November—George Lopez spoke to about why he wants to knock down walls, who will top his list of must-have celebrity guests, and how he plans to shake things up in the nighttime hours.

Why is this the right time to host your own talk show?

We’re looking at an incredibly diverse and
ethnically enhanced audience that wasn’t there 20 years ago, 30 years ago, even 10
years ago. I’m not sure if you can reinvent the talk show format, but I think you
can paint it with different colors, and we’re gonna use more brown and
taupe and mauve and more colors than I think are being used right now on late night.

Who is on your list of must-have celebrity guests?

Samuel L. Jackson was in my production pilot,
and so was Eva Longoria and Dane Cook…and I used Shakira’s
band. Also, I’m a huge fan of Maná...I can’t remember the last time I saw Maná on English-speaking TV, and now they have the opportunity to do that. Why
shouldn’t Latinos have a show where they can see Denzel Washington and Maná?

You know, and obviously everybody from Juanes, to Santana, to, to Garth Brooks...everybody’s in play.
Except maybe Erik Estrada.

Why not?

Uh, not a fan.

How will your late night show stand out from all the rest?

Well first of all, I’m not a white male. You put me and
Craig Ferguson right next to each other, and you’ll see a huge difference
already...I’ve never been
happier to not be a white male than I am today.

[The audience] will be a little closer, and what I want to do is sometimes do interviews
right in the middle of the people. I don’t think there has to be this kind of
imaginary wall. I’m a Latino, so I’m not for walls. When I interviewed Eva, I let the audience ask three
questions, and we didn’t screen the questions. I think you have to pay somebody
everytime they talk, but TBS has got some bank. They’ll be alright with that.

Since you'll be on a cable network, will you take more risks?

The head of TBS said, "Listen, George,
we’re cable so take some liberties with the language." I think that might come
back to bite him in the ass. I’m sure a "motherf***er" will slip out now and then.

not afraid to take on somebody or say something that somebody will find
offensive. Unfortunately in comedy, you can’t say something really good without
offending somebody.

Why not just do another sitcom?

Oh man, I’m out of the sitcom business. I never thought I
would get a sitcom, nor did I ever think I would be in syndication, nor did I
ever think the show would be more successful in syndication than it was in
production. But that’s kind of the way my career’s been, where it’s all been
unexpected. I grew up dirt poor, so I’ve
exceeded my own expectations.