Speaking his mind 

Nothing’s taboo with Carlos Mencia

Carlos Mencia just might get his ass kicked.

The abrasive comedian, known for his brazen commentary on race, religion, politics and society, has gained a lot of attention for his brand of humor. In the tradition of Lenny Bruce, he mixes downright disses with intelligence, and always proves a point, whether or not the audience agrees.

Mencia, for instance, has had the honor of garnering seven entries on urbandictionary.com, a site that allows people to write their own “definitions” of pretty much anything or anyone. Most are positive, comparing Mencia to Dave Chappelle. A couple, though, are venomous.

Talking to Mencia on the phone, I read him one particularly scathing entry. As it appears on the site: “He should not be in america, because he is anti-american and opposes everything we stand for. has no original material and mimicks the black comedian racist behavior. if i ever meet this mother fucker, he will get the ever lovin shit beat out of him.”

Mencia loves it. “Beautiful!” he laughs.

Although incendiary, his humor has earned him two HBO specials, one of which received a CableACE nomination; a DVD, Carlos Mencia: Not for the Easily Offended; and, as of last year, his own critically acclaimed TV show on Comedy Central, aptly named “Mind of Mencia.” The stand-up and sketch comedy program was cable’s highest rated new comedy series this summer.

In one typical segment, Mencia speaks about recent immigration issues and how unarmed volunteers are monitoring the borders.

“When you’re at the border with no gun and no power, I think really you’re a fucking greeter,” he said on the show. “You’re like a greeter from Chili’s with one of those little clipboards and the wetbacks will come up and they’ll be like, ‘Hernandez party of 852, Hernandez party of 852—and, we’re going to need, like, 750 highchairs.”

Mencia says his urge to instigate came at an early age. His family emigrated from Honduras to East Los Angeles, and his ghetto surroundings begat bravado. The 39-year-old comedian says that growing up poor, he didn’t have much, but that attitude is one thing he did have.

“It’s difficult to be Seinfeld when you grow up in the projects,” he says.

“When I was a kid, there were always these things I wanted to say. I would see things I thought were stupid, but I couldn’t say anything, because my mom would say, ‘You can’t say that now, and you can’t say it here,’” he says. “She never said, ‘You can’t say it ever,’ just, ‘Not here and now.’ As a kid I kept thinking, Well, when the hell am I going to be able to say anything?”

Though Mencia came within one credit of graduating with a degree in electrical engineering from Cal State, Los Angeles, he knew comedy was his calling after his first gig.

“As soon as I got offstage,” he says, “I knew: Not only is it the one place my mom can’t tell me what I can’t say, but God put me on Earth to do this.”

Interestingly, Mencia’s not just trying to piss people off. He maintains that his edgy humor is borne out of a positive intention, that humans need to laugh, and that laughing about certain taboo topics—the war, stereotypes, class divisions, etc.—makes them palatable.

So Mencia’s not too worried about the would-be ass-kicker from urbandictionary.com.

“He’s going to beat the ever-loving shit out of me? That’s hilarious. I make people laugh for a living. Even when I don’t succeed, my intention is honorable,” he says. “You want to beat my ass, I want to make you laugh. Who’s the dick here—you or me?”

Then he adds: “By the way, I’ve got a huge smile on my face right now.”

Carlos Mencia’s Punisher Tour comes to the University Theatre Tuesday, Sept. 19, at 7 PM. $37.85, available from griztix.com or the Adams Center box office.

arts@missoulanews.com

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