George Lopez stopped by the Stern Show Tuesday morning, a day before his new semi-autobiographical sitcom "Lopez" premieres on TV Land.
The comedian never holds back when he's on with Howard and this was no exception. He shared a ton of hilarious stories, including one about the bizarre phone calls he'd get from Bill Cosby after taking over the Playboy Jazz Festival, and also reflected on the life and career Garry Shandling in the wake of his unexpected death on Thursday.
Check out some highlights from the interview (below).
Bill Cosby's Jazz Festival Advice
A few years ago Bill Cosby, who was the longtime emcee of the Playboy Jazz Festival, handed off the title to Lopez.
"I don't know if I was close, but he passed the Jazz Festival [on to me]," George told Howard in regards to his relationship to Cosby.
Howard and Robin recalled how Cosby was the cleanest cut comedian back in the day, but he'd still show up on "Playboy After Dark" and various places.
"So, we should've known something was up, right?" Howard wondered.
"It possibly could be one of the worst kept fucking secrets," Lopez agreed. "It's like in the '70s, you go, 'Elton John's gay? Wait a minute – I just thought he was flamboyant,'" he jokingly continued.
George said he had heard stories about Cosby from his industry friends for awhile, but had never experienced any unusual run-ins with the man until a few years ago when he became involved with the jazz festival. That's when he started receiving odd phone calls from Bill.
"I get a call in the morning and [someone] says, 'Bill Cosby wants you to call him at 4:30,'" Lopez began.
So he called. George remembered the phone call starting out normal, with Cosby telling him "how to do the show, and this and that." But then Cosby apparently shifted gears and gave George advice about meeting women at the festival. "He says, you know, like, 'If you meet a lady, man, put her in the audience. Don't bring her backstage,'" George explained.
"If you want to get blown, keep her out there," Lopez quipped before joking that the calls would last 45 minutes – five about jazz and 40 about "eating ass … allegedly."
Witnessing the Birth of Garry Shandling's Larry Sanders
With the recent and sudden death of comedy legend Garry Shandling, Howard wondered if George ever had any interactions with him.
"I met Garry Shandling in 1979 … at the Comedy Store in Westwood," Lopez remembered. This was at the point in his life when, after getting into a bad crash, Shandling was set on pursuing standup comedy.
"I saw all that," George told Howard. And incredibly, he also witnessed the birth of one of Garry's most iconic characters: "He used to do a character named Eddie Landers. And Garry wasn't like a character guy, but he'd wear like a red flannel thing and he had like a hunting hat. And that was Eddie Landers, and then he became Larry Sanders," Lopez explained.
Getting a Sitcom Courtesy of Sandra Bullock
Lopez is gearing up to launch his new TV Land sitcom "Lopez," but it's not exactly uncharted territory for the comedy veteran whose "George Lopez" show aired for six seasons on ABC.
George took Howard back and told him the story about how that first sitcom came to life. In a seemingly unlikely turn of events, as George told Howard, it was actually actress Sandra Bullock who first believed he could take television by storm.
Bullock, who was known for "Miss Congeniality" at the time, sought out Lopez at The Improv in Brea, CA and was apparently captivated by his stories on stage and eventually decided to help him launch his own show. If circumstances were slightly different though, George said he thought it could have gone a very different way.
"She lives in Austin, so like a year before, she went to see Chappelle one weekend and I was there the next weekend," George remembered. "She was going to come in, but at that time I was drinking a lot and very sloppy on stage."
George told Howard that he literally prayed that she wouldn't come in and see him in that state. And luckily she didn't.
"She saw me at the right time in my life," George concluded, adding that "she really didn't take no for an answer" from the network after that.
A Relationship With Alcohol
George has discussed his struggles with alcohol in the past, but Tuesday's interview went significantly deeper. The 54-year-old comedian admitted that he's trying to stay sober, but he isn't always successful, in part because of the social environment of his current comedic tour. Additionally, he doesn't feel groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are a good fit for him.
"There's no group that I bond with," he told Howard.
Lopez mused that he occasionally "drift[s] off" when he has too much to drink, before going on to explain that alcohol is "like a companion" to him. "I don't know man, it's like a friend," he described.
"But I wouldn't go to rehab … I would just fucking wait it out," Lopez revealed. "It's like, you have one, you have ten … So I try not to have any."
Lopez on "Lopez"
George is proud about his new TV Land sitcom "Lopez," which premieres on Wednesday, and he suspects it might be successful enough to stay on the air for a while.
"I think it's a good show," Lopez told Howard. "I'm running out of ways to use my name — but I like this one for a few years."
George told Howard and Robin a large portion of his show will focus on his day-to-day problems. "People think when you have money you don't have problems," Lopez said, before insisting that couldn't be further from the truth.
"What are your problems?" Howard wondered.
"There's a couple of them," he replied, before telling a story of moving into a new house in Los Angeles, forgetting the code to his alarm system, getting the police sent to his house, and not having them believe he was the home owner.
"There's a Latino cop and a white cop, and the Latino guy says, 'How long have you lived here?' I said 'about a year,' and the other guy says, 'Can I see your I.D.?'"
But his identification didn't have his new address on it, however, so he had to rummage through his house looking for something to prove he lived there. He joked that all he could find were golf clubs and an industrial strength washing machine, which weren't helping his cause, and that the only way they would believe a Mexican lived there was for him to pull out tortillas from the kitchen.
George said he took "all of this stuff" that he constantly has to deal with and he put it into "Lopez." And while he's hopeful the show will be successful, he doesn't stay up at night worrying about it. At the very least, he and Howard agreed, he'll aways be able to fall back on being a talented stand-up comedian.
Watch an exclusive clip from "Lopez" above, and be sure to check out the show when it premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m.