Comedian Carlos Mencia ready to share his philosophies with Southwest FloridaDate posted: May 25, 2012
Author: DAVE OSBORN
Growing up in East Los Angeles, comedian Carlos Mencia looked to a teacher for motivation to help him make it out of the ghetto.
Mencia recalls the educator asking him and his classmates what they wanted to be when they grew up. He says a friend raised his hand and replied, “President of the United States.”
“And she said, ‘Listen, you’re Mexican. You’ll never be president,’ ” Mencia remembers his teacher saying.
“And then she says, ‘But you can be a mechanic.’ I swear to God, not even a joke. I just didn’t even think I could ever be an actor or anything like that.”
He delivers his standup next week at Capt. Brien’s Seafood and Raw Bar, home of the Off the Hook Comedy Club, 599 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island. His shows are 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, June 1, and 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, June 2.
Mencia, 44, gained national notoriety for his Comedy Central television show, “Mind of Mencia,” that aired from 2005-08.
He says he never considered standup until someone suggested that he try it. Mencia says he was attending college, studying engineering, and would’ve been happy with that. A co-worker remarked how funny Mencia was when he often commented on TV news.
“I’d say, ‘you don’t understand, I’m not trying to be funny,’ ” he recalls. “What he said to me is, ‘Your brain is formatted already for standup. You’re telling jokes in a standup comedy way and don’t even know it.’ ”
So, Mencia says, he gave it a shot.
“I went on stage, and the moment I stepped offstage, I knew: I had a gift,” he says.
“I’m spiritual in nature and I realized it’s my responsibility to God and humanity to not squander this gift.”
If you go
When: ■ 8 p.m. Thursday, May 30
■ 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, June 1
■ 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, June 2
■ 9 p.m. Sunday, June 3
Cost: $25 general admission; $50 VIP (includes preferred seating and food voucher)
For those who haven’t listened to Mencia’s comedy, he isn’t afraid to delve into almost any topic. Race seems to be his most popular subject, says the Honduran-born Mencia.
“I like talking about stuff that people ignore, whatever that is,” he says. “I don’t think anything is off limits. There’s nothing better for me when people say, ‘That’s so funny. I’ve never seen that perspective before.’ ”
Mencia says he has no problem shining a spotlight on all races — his included. And virtually all ethnic groups in history of the U.S. have been made fun of, whether it be Irish, Polish, German, Asian, Hispanic or others.
“One group has always been made fun of and one group has been put in a position to do the work that nobody else does,” Mencia explains.
“That’s just the rite of passage for any group; it doesn’t matter where you go. You can’t just show up and be part of the fraternity. This has always been the case. It’s been the case of every single society I know of.”
One reason for Mencia’s popularity is that he does target everybody, says Capt. Brien Spina, co-owner of Capt. Brien’s Off the Hook Comedy Club.
“He just makes fun of stereotypes across the board,” Spina says.
“It’s a big honor for us to have him here. (Off the Hook is) probably one of the smallest venues he plays in the country. For his usual venues, it’s usually 2,000 to 5,000 seats.”
Mencia has drawn some criticism, in particular for a comment he made: “One thing I learned about Katrina is black people can’t swim.” Mencia said he did research and found that more than 50 percent of blacks in the U.S. cannot swim, which is often left out of references to his Katrina remark.
A Google search backs up Mencia’s assertion: A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found the fatal drowning rate of black children aged 5-14 is three times that of white children. And a 2010 USA Swimming study found that just under 70 percent of black children had “no or low ability to swim.”
“Here’s the problem with what people don’t get,” he explains of his Katrina comment. “They take that and they don’t finish the joke.”
Mencia says he won’t apologize.
“Apologizing for the joke itself is basically saying that they’re right, that you intended to be hurtful,” he explains. “I know what I do, I know what I say. All of that in its entirety is not intended to be hurtful.”
Socrates and Plato have been replaced today by the likes of George Carlin, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock, Mencia says.
“At the end of the day,” he explains, “we are like the philosophers of yesterday, with the ability to talk about things that the average person can’t talk about anymore.
“It’s truths that only we can tell on stage as comedians.”
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