Carlos Mencia talks South Park, Name Changes, and Family Dysfunction
Carlos Mencia has been called a lot of things, but the one that sticks the most is--wait for it--hilarious. From his travails in hit TV shows and movies, to being a topic on gossip sites, Mencia has come out wiser and funnier.
Carlos recently dropped 70 pounds, too. Oddly enough, with less of him physically, there is more to love! Catch this funny guy tonight and Saturday as he offers up a special performance at the Brea Improv!
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): I was surprised to hear that your real first name was Ned! I had no idea!
Carlos Mencia: Yeah, Mitzi from the Comedy Store told me Ned was not a good name and Carlos was my uncle's name. Mitzi was like, "Yep! That's it! Carlos Mencia! You can't be an angry Mexican with the first name of Ned." I was like...I'm not Mexican! [Laughs.]
What's the deal with that?
Well I had to start getting used to the fact that people would think I'm Mexican. People assume that and they get mad when I say I'm not. So I'll go on stage and say I'm from Honduras and then people will be like, "Yo it's cool your Mexican!" And I'm like, naw...I just said I'm from Honduras! And they're like, "Why'd you trick me man?" Or they'll say, "What part of Mexico is Honduras?"
Wow. I hope those people weren't from Orange County. Let me get this out of the way because I am a huge South Park fan. What was your immediate reaction to being on South Park? Embarrassed or honored?
Oh honored, of course! Hell yes! Listen, I've been mentioned and been made fun of by all of the big ones. The Simpsons did it, South Park did it, and so did Family Guy. I love those guys and I wish they would have called me so I could have done my own voice! It was awesome really, I couldn't believe it. I mean, that's what they do and that's how I looked at it.
I love that you're a team player, I'd be beyond excited too. So you are the 17th of 18 kids so you pretty much know your parents liked to do it.
My parents talk about it all of the time so I guess so!
And how were the holidays around your house?
They started off awesome with 18 kids, girlfriends and wives, kids...hundreds of people in a house. All of them saying, "I love you and we're here for you." It's all perfect. Then a few hours later someone will bring out beers and everyone gets a little nicer! Then someone brings tequila and about an hour later someone is yelling at somebody going, "Your wife is a whore!" It usually ended by someone saying, "We gotta go. Your dad stuck my dad with a fork."
Sounds like you had no choice but to find humor! Who gave you your "big break?"
Probably Mitzi. Her making me a regular at the Comedy Store is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Being able to sit there and learn from the best comedians of all times in my era was just amazing. I got the opportunity to learn how to be great through these guys. I mean, I got advice from Sam Kinison, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Louie Anderson, and Robin Williams. I mean, these are the people who taught me how to do my craft so that was the biggest break of all time! Without that foundation the house that I built would have fallen. It wouldn't be what it is!
Those are legendary comics, that is so cool! How would you describe your writing style?
I'm not like most writers because, I write to the premise. I'll give you an example of what I mean. So everyone is discussing the fence that leads across the Mexican border. As if, somebody who just walked all the way from Nicaragua is really going to the border to look at a fence and turn around. So ok, that premise is funny. Now it becomes a matter of execution. I can make it funnier, I just have to figure out how. Maybe it's an impression of a guy who gets to the fence, "Oh man! Oh no! Nobody said there was a fence! I gotta go back!" Or maybe it's a guy saying, "It's not even electric stupid," and jumps over. Or is it the Americans going, "Get them! Oh my god! They're jumping over the fence!" You know, it just depends on which one works. It's all about the premise...that's how I work.
So is the process to get there slow or quick?
Well sometimes it comes quick but sometimes it takes a while to dial all of that down.
Do you think people are becoming more sensitive these days when it comes to comedy?
Yes! When there was that Monica Lewinski scandal and people were saying to impeach I told people, the only reason we care about this is because or country is so awesome right now that we can worry about the fact that someone is getting a blow-job. Everything was going good. Now, if Barak Obama were to turn everything around and give us tax breaks, get the economy going and unemployment back down to 2 or 3% and get a blow-job in the side? We would all say, leave him alone! He deserves two blow-jobs! Now it's more so, how you make people laugh without being condescending. I don't want people to feel guilty.
I don't think a lot of people feel genuinely guilty. I think it's more so they don't want to get caught laughing at something tragic. I know it's mean to say...
No! It's not mean to say because you're right! When I do a Native Indian joke at an Indian casino, people laugh. I know there isn't a person in that room that would hit the jackpot in that casino and give the money back to say sorry for taking their land. It's kind of like getting to the core of our humanity, in a good and a bad way. Humor isn't intended to hurt, it's intended to make people laugh at their day.
I agree because when something tragic happens I feel like it's a comic job to bring a smile. Not make light...but to make laughs.
Exactly! That is our job! The basic equation to comedy is, tragedy + time= comedy. The double standard and the hypocrisy is where I live. People will come to my show and say, "Oh that's rude that you said that!" But I'm like, wait a minute that was a joke. People watch those video's on TV of people hurting themselves jumping of walls and breaking their legs and think that stuff is funny. So really, we all laugh at tragedy. It's the double standard. You watch Wipeout and think it's hysterical when someone does a face plant but I do a joke about gays and I'm out of line? Get the fuck outta here! I don't understand how people go to comedy shows and take it seriously.
Your views seem to have gotten a bit calmer over the years, do you think it's part of growing up?
Well sure. When I was younger as a comic in the late '80s I used to talk about I don't know what's going to happen to Latino's in the future because according to movies based in the future, there are none. My black friends would say, "Well we're going to die first." And I'd say, at least your token! It was funny, but it was real! I can't do that joke anymore and I can't even do that premise anymore! Now I turn on the TV and movies and Latinos are everywhere! It's different now and I don't feel that anger anymore because that's not where I'm at. I'm in a happier place and my perspective is now from that place. It's no longer based out of anger or frustration because I'm a happier, mature guy now. And with the weight loss transformation I think on stage, I'm funnier than ever before. I always thought I was a funny guy but to see the reaction I am getting now, it just blows me away.
Why? Did you think if you lost the fat you'd lose the funny?
Well for a comedian, it's really awesome to be flawed. So I was really afraid that if I did lose weight it wouldn't be the same. That's why it's sometimes difficult for attractive women to be funny. You have to have some kind of physical flaw. Guys won't listen because they're thinking about banging her, and all of the women are thinking, she's a bitch!
Ha, so true. So what kind of show can Brea expect to see this weekend?
I've been touring all over the country and when I go to Brea, I feel like I'm going to hang out with people I know. I did a special called "New Territory" that is airing on December 4th on Comedy Central. I was getting a lot of e-mails saying, I can't wait until you bring it on tour so we can see it live. So we put this small tour together and are giving it to the real fans that come out to the comedy clubs. It's my way of saying thank you by giving them the opportunity to see the special live before it airs! I love and appreciate my fans and I'm looking forward to it!
Check out Carlos's website and follow him on Twitter @CarlosMencia and be his friend on Facebook. Mencia performs at the Brea Improv tonight and Saturday. For tickets call (714) 482-0700 or go to www.improv.com. The Improv is located at 120 South Brea Blvd. Brea.
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