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Carlos Mencia has a new perspective on comedy and life

Colette Greenstein
Colette Greenstein has been a contributing arts & entertainment writer for the Banner since 2009. VIEW BIO
Carlos Mencia has a new perspective on comedy and life

“I started doing stand-up because I love making people laugh,” says comedian and actor Carlos Mencia in a recent interview with the Banner. Mencia was born in Honduras, the 17th of 18 children. His parents sent him to the United States when he was about three months old to be raised by his aunt and uncle who were living in a Los Angeles housing project. In his early teens, Mencia moved back home to Honduras because his family didn’t want him getting caught up in gang life in East Los Angeles.

Upon returning to the states, Mencia was promoted to the tenth grade at Garfield High School.

“I was always going to be the kid that went to college to better me and my family in that respect. I was always a straight ‘A’ student. I was going to get a degree in chemical engineering. A path was written for me,” said Mencia.

His parents expected him to be an engineer, but Mencia had other ideas. His stand-up career began when he took the stage at an amateur night at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles. After becoming a regular on the LA comedy circuit, he later landed several gigs on the TV shows Moesha, The Arsenio Hall Show, and In Living Color. Once his parents saw him on television performing stand-up they understood that comedy was what he wanted to do with his life.

In 2002, Mencia headlined “The Three Amigos” tour with fellow comics Freddy Soto and Pablo Francisco, and three years later in 2005, Mencia hosted his own sketch/comedy series on Comedy Central called Mind of Mencia. After Mind of Mencia ended its four-year run, Carlos appeared in three back-to-back stand-up comedy specials from 2005 to 2007.

Mencia was open about his time spent out of the public eye. It gave him pause to be reflective.

“I also needed to grow after the Mind of Mencia, go through all the trials and tribulations that I did as a comedian,” he said. “You know, having seen a friend of mine, Richard Jeni, and Robin [Williams] pass the way they did and taking themselves so seriously in a way. I just had to go through that darkness myself and come out not angry and not vicious and not resentful towards friends or other comedians. I didn’t want to be an angry, resentful comedian, and I’ve seen many. It’s something I didn’t want to do. I needed that transformation for myself.”

His love for stand-up is what brought Mencia back out on the road.

“I realized that there’s nobody out there that does what I do,” he said. “I don’t do what anybody else does. I think in life, standup was never anything I wanted to run away from. I love doing stand-up. I love doing movies. I love doing TV. But, stand-up wasn’t a vehicle to get to those other places. Those other places are fun to be in. They’re interesting … but there’s only once place where I’m actor, director, producer, writer.”

Currently traveling around the country on his C 4 Urself Tour, Mencia is known for not shying away from controversial topics like race and politics. He’ll be giving his unique perspective on everything from Ebola to current events in his upcoming show at The Wilbur.

“I feel like in America today there’s a lot of static,” he said. “The static seems to separate us more than it does to unify us. The one thing that I can do is make people laugh and at the same time make all of us closer through laughter.”

Carlos Mencia and his C 4 Urself Tour land at The Wilbur this Friday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $29;