PASADENA, Calif. — George Lopez considers President Barack Obama a friend. And Lopez wouldn't mind if his friend happened to drop by when he starts hosting his own late-night talk show.
The president actually appeared in a short promotional piece for "Lopez Tonight," which is slated to debut in early November on TBS.
"In the Barack Obama opening, one of us is a citizen. Your job is to figure out which one of us is a citizen," Lopez joked to TV critics.
Lopez wasn't entirely kidding. He was indeed an Obama supporter during the campaign. The comedian said he got a call from Chris Rock in February 2008, setting up a call from the then-future president.
"He said that he needed the Latino vote, never thinking that, in the presidential candidate, those 38 votes would mean the difference between a Democratic president and a Republican president," Lopez said. "And he called me three weeks ago, and we had a very lovely conversation — a little bit about the kids and a lot about Iran. And he is a great guy, and I can consider the 44th president of the United States a close friend of mine. Thank you. And I grew up poor."
And he definitely wouldn't mind if the Obamas stopped by his talk show if they happen to find themselves in California in November or later.
"Well, I would say that if he came to Los Angeles again with Michelle and his mother-in-law that I would like them to stop by," Lopez said. "Listen, Barack Obama is of Kenyan descent but also has some Latino in him. I think you see the Latino. He lives in a house that's not his. That's very Latino. His mother-in-law lives with him, helping him raise his two kids. He's one of us. He's a man for all people.
"And, yes, I would say that if they came to Los Angeles and didn't come on this show, I would personally be offended."
(Remember, Lopez is a comedian.)
ADDED PRESSURE? Much is already being made about the fact that Lopez will be the first Hispanic to host a late-night talk show airing nationally — including by both TBS and Lopez himself. But he doesn't want to make too much of it or add the pressure of representing an entire segment of the population.
"I only feel added pressure because apparently in some parts of the country, I'll be up against novelas. I don't think I can win that battle," he jokingly said. "But no, I don't feel any pressure to do anything other than what I've been doing the last 30 years and that is making people laugh and entertaining.
"The 'George Lopez' sitcom has a tremendous following in syndication. Now, those people, I would assume, would want to see me every night. And this is the place to see me, on TBS. Ultimately, the goal is to do a show so great that people who are out there with black boxes actually want to turn themselves in and pay for cable."
CUSTOMS PROBLEM: Lopez is an avid golfer, but he recently missed a scheduled appearance at a charity tournament.
"I had trouble through customs. ... I had trouble getting back into the country, and I'm a citizen actually," he said.
Lopez was joking. But not altogether.
"I'm half joking," he said. "There is a guy that has my name that is apparently a bad guy. And every time I enter the country, I get pulled aside, and it takes me a little while longer to get through customs."