George Lopez is at a crossroads.
The standup comedian and author was, until recently, also the star of his self-titled TV show on ABC. But the network ended the show's six-season run this spring.
Now, Lopez is eyeing a career in film and continuing his successful standup tour. Sunday, he comes to the Warner Theatre in Washington.
When ABC canceled his show, Lopez felt frustrated at first, but now sees it as a blessing.
"The show was my life," Lopez said. "I was upset at the beginning, because I'm the leader of the show. Now that I've had time to look back, I feel like a lot of the burden's been lifted off me."
Lopez based large portions of his TV show and his standup routine on his upbringing as a poor Latino child.
Raised by his grandparents, Lopez never knew his father and is still estranged from his mother. His grandfather passed away some years ago, and his grandmother is now in her late 80s and suffers from dementia.
But Lopez sees his early years as a source of inspiration and motivation, he said.
"I wouldn't trade a second of my loneliness or my tears," Lopez said. "I used to rub lemons on my arm in the backyard in summer, because I thought I was too dark and I wanted to lighten my skin. I wouldn't trade any of that for how everything turned out."
Lopez drew from his childhood experiences to write material for his standup routine and the TV show. But he could only bring up certain family-friendly issues on the TV show. A couple of years ago, he also wrote a book.
Published in 2005, Why You Crying?: My Long, Hard Look at Life, Love, and Laughter, made the New York Times best seller list. It gave Lopez another outlet to vent his childhood frustrations on an entirely new platform.
"The book helped because I finally got it out," Lopez said. "That was the deepest purge -- even deeper than the show. That was more from the soul and from the heart."
Given television's current fixation with reality programs, Lopez doesn't see himself going back to the medium any time soon, he said.
TV "is really kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel now," Lopez said. "Bingo, dude? Bingo? Wife Swap? If you pick the wife, maybe."
"That's the next step," Lopez said.
George Lopez performs his standup routine at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday at the Warner Theatre, 13th Street (between E and F streets Northwest) in Washington. Tickets are $55. For more information, call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticketmaster.com.