Guillermo gives 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' the common touch

BRUCE MILLER | Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2013 7:00 pm

LOS ANGELES | One day you're a parking lot security guard. The next you're a network television star.

Simple career move, right? It was for Guillermo Rodriguez, the pawn in many of "Jimmy Kimmel Live's" late-night comedy bits.

"They wanted to do a skit with a Spanish guy," Rodriguez recalls. "He was supposed to be the cook for Michael Jackson. So they decided to put me in. I was real nervous but the writers liked it, Jimmy liked  and, thank god, I've been working here for 10 years."

Acting advice? He got that from Kimmel's uncle who used to be the comic foil. "He told me, 'Always be yourself. Be authentic,'" Rodriguez says. "'We're not actors. We're just being funny.'"

And that's what Rodriguez, a native of Mexico and former security guard, has tried to do. From interviewing stars on the red carpet at the Oscars to undergoing a physical with Dr. Oz, he's been the everyman in a show filled with them.

Different from security work? "It's a lot of fun," Rodriguez says on the set of the ABC show. "It's another way to earn your money...and you get to see a lot of beautiful women." He smiles.

The prettiest? "Oh, Michelle Obama. She was very nice. I love her and God bless her."

A U.S. citizen since 2005, Rodriguez won the Guinness World Record for most pairs of underwear worn at one time.  He's thrilled he's working for Kimmel -- who he says is a nice guy -- but he wouldn't do anything to rock the boat.

"They'd let me make fun of him if I wanted to, but I cannot do it," he says. "It's hard to find a good job right now."

And his spot at "JKL"? "It's the best. People recognize me on the street all the time."

Family back in Mexico, he says, are excited about his new-found fame. "They couldn't believe I was going to be on television. But this is America. Anything is possible...thank God and thank Jimmy Kimmel."

Kimmel's Uncle Frank -- Frank Potenza -- played a security guard on the show until his death in 2011. A retired New York police officer, he got involved in lots of the show's skits, sometimes teaming with Rodriguez for a bit called "Security Night Live." He, too, had no acting experience (just a relative in the business) but a love for Kimmel that erased all hesitation.

"He was beyond nice," Rodriguez says. "He was everybody's Uncle Frank. He's say, 'How's the family? You need gas money? You OK.' Instead of suffering, he's in heaven, watching us and helping us."

Near the show's green room, there's a shrine to Potenza.

Rodriguez says it's entirely fitting that he's still remembered and revered. "He was the best."

Now, it's his turn to strike a blow for the common man. A star? No, Rodriguez says, then laughs. "I'm just glad everything is going good. It turned out all right. And the money's better than what I was getting as a security guard."