If anyone knows how to shake off the negative and keep it moving, it's Carlos Mencia. Though he's had his share of YouTube squabbles and controversies with other comics in recent years, there's a reason his loyal fans never strayed (we're pretty sure the hilarity of his Carlosaurus Rex sketches from Comedy Central's Mind of Mencia has something to do with it). Whatever the reason, his more than two decades in the business have proven this East LA funny man is full of ambition. So much so that he's even prepping for two stops in OC: After hitting up the Brea Improv Thursday through Saturday, you can catch him April 3 at Fullerton's historic Fox Theater in Comedy Show for Autism, presented by Heroes and benefitting the Fullerton Cares Autism Foundation. Before he heads into town, we chatted with Mencia about his crazy schedule, his take on the pope situation, and why being funny isn't the only thing that makes a comedian.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): You were raised Catholic. Any thoughts on the whole pope thing?
Carlos Mencia: You know what? I don't understand the people that are pissed off. I think it's awesome that there's a pope [Benedict XVI] that is honest enough to admit, "I'm old as shit, I don't remember anything, and I need to stop doing this job!" You know they speak Latin half the time, and this guy is so old I don't even know if he knows what he's saying anymore. It's interesting to me that Catholics don't bitch that there are no female popes, but they'll complain when a pope says he's too old to do the job. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Good for him for acknowledging his limitations. Maybe he was trying to talk to God, and God was like, "I can't even understand what the hell you're saying. You're babbling; it's time for you to go."
Do you think the Internet has completely changed the face of comedy?
Bigtime! The problem with standup is the same as it has always been: People don't know how difficult it is to do what we do. We are the only art that gets heckled because people don't get that it's a show. People think we're just talking because that's what the art is, but really, it's very formatted. Also, everyone can say a funny thing, but not everyone can be funny over and over. So if someone on Twitter says a funny thing, they think they're funny. But okay, here's a microphone and 300 people . . . now go! So, yeah, online has hurt it in a way. But then again, it also allows for that one person who normally wouldn't get a chance to get what they want. Like that old lady from that talent show over in the U.K., whatever the fuck her name was. [Laughs.]
How'd you get involved with the Fullerton Cares Autism event?
Brad [Williams] called me up and asked me to do it, and I wanted to because I want to be helpful to the people who don't have the things that I have in my life. It's important to stay humble, you know? I love being there for people and charities. I get to do what I love for a living, and they get some help. It's just a perfect combination!
Carlos Mencia performs at the Brea Improv, 120 S. Brea Blvd., Brea, (714) 482-0700; www.Improv.com. Thurs.-Sat., March 28-30. For show times and ticket prices, visit the website. And at Comedy Show for Autism at the Fox Theater, 500 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton; www.FullertonCares.com. April 3, 7 p.m. $30-$200. For more about Mencia, go to www.CarlosMencia.com.