Q&A: Comedian Carlos Mencia
Comedian Carlos Mencia has a lot to say.
The man who starred in a four-season run of “Mind of Mencia” on Comedy Central and performed numerous stand-up shows through the years will stop in Grand Junction to talk about it all during an 8 p.m. show Saturday, Nov. 17, at Avalon Theatre, 645 Main St.
Tickets cost $34 at TicketsWest.com. Doors open at 7 p.m.
I caught up with Mencia in Los Angeles to talk about his new comedy tour, the recent election and whether the United States is too politically correct.
Melinda Mawdsley: I’m curious. Where does an interest in comedy even start? Does someone just say, “Carlos, you’re funny. You should be a comedian?”
Carlos Mencia: Some of us just have written programs that are part of our psyche. Mine is interpreting information in an interesting, funny way. That’s how my brain works. It’s very simple.
Mawdsley: You are on the C4 Urself Tour. Why is it named that?
Mencia: When I was a younger comic, a lot of things I talked about were real but came off as agitated and angry. I had to change. I’m not the same guy anymore. I don’t have anything to prove. Now, I’m always going to talk about the things that are funny that people will shy away from, but the way I deliver my material is different now.
Mawdsley: What do you mean?
Mencia: When I would go on stage before, I would want to make the audience laugh so hard to prove I’m worthy. That sometimes led to me getting confrontational and the audience feeling judged. Now, I don’t need to prove anything. I want to go up on stage and share my gift. Because of the way I grew up (in the projects of East L.A.), I have a way to make things funny you didn’t know you could laugh at.
Mawdsley: Where does comedy fit into talking about issues such as race, gender, politics, etc?
Mencia: We are the United States of America, but we are comprised of different ethnicities with different points of views for specific reasons. It’s not a bad thing. It’s human. For example, the other day I went to a nail salon. Everyone there was Mexican. I should have felt comfortable with this, but in my head I was thinking, “Where are the Asians?” On the other hand, if an Asian came and knocked on my door and asked to cut my grass, I’d say, “No.” In real life, would I say that? I don’t know, Is that a good thing? A bad thing? No, it’s just a human thing. Why do we have to feel guilty?
Mawdsley: Well, that might have offended people, or at least make them uncomfortable. Do you run into quite a few people offended by your topics?
Mencia: All of America gets offended easily because we have a rich people problem. We have Food Network. Some people in this world don’t have food. In America, we go camping. We have so much in our homes that we actually pretend that we are homeless. We complain about things other people don’t complain about. Part of it is in America we have a problem differentiating from the world that is and the world that should be. The world that is, is different than the world that should be. It’s not fair, but it is ... In the front row (at his shows) there are so many people laughing but shaking their heads because they can’t believe they are laughing. I give them a high five because it’s OK. We aren’t doing anything wrong. We’re laughing. Comedy at its best takes a painful situation and makes it powerful. It looks at a situation from a true point of view. That, to me, is where it’s at.
Mawdsley: Is the real world funny?
Mencia: Oh, God yes. If you don’t take it seriously. If you don’t take it personally. If you don’t make it about you.
Mawdsley: I’ve seen numerous clips of yours. Nothing’s off limits in terms of jokes or anecdotes.
Mencia: On a personal level, when I talk about racial stuff it’s because I don’t want to ignore it or pretend it’s not there. For me, it’s let’s put this (expletive) out there and let’s laugh at it and make it funny. For me, it’s not demeaning or belittling, it’s laughing at it…I just want to make it funny. Here’s what I know. Speech can empower but it doesn’t have power.
Every person that’s ever shot up a school, blown up a building, whatever, when they interview people who knew them, those people all say the same thing, “they were quiet; they kept to themselves; they didn’t say much.” That’s why I encourage people, no matter what comes out of our mouth, open it. I’d much rather people do that than shoot up a school or movie theater. Let it out. There’s a reason the most oppressed and suppressed people in this country are white people. If you are white, you can’t laugh at anyone.
Mawdsley: Is it interesting to be on a comedy tour right now when it seems half the country is upset by the election and half the country is elated?
Mencia: What I find very funny is when liberals come and see me perform, they think I’m liberal. When conservatives come, they think I’m conservative. When you tell the truth, both sides see the truth ... We are divided in our own stupid minds.
I’ve been to every state in this country. People want the same thing: their kids to be safe, their kids to get a decent education, access to higher education, affordable health care, a good job, safe neighborhoods, a retirement nest egg. The difference is how we try to solve the problems. At our core, we are just human beings looking for happiness.