Comedian Carlos Mencia dishes on his non-beef with Joe Rogan and why he thinks society is too politically correct
by Whitney Ullman
Performing for a sold out crowd at the Tropicana Showroom, Carlos Mencia, kept the audience in tears from laughter. Although the topics were quite racy and somewhat inappropriate, he also offered nuggets of advice between jokes to show his more 'human' side, and the fans loved it. After the show, Mencia stayed for over an hour taking pictures with everyone who waited in line, and from our NJ.com interview, we learned that he is one of the most down to earth celebrities you could meet with a refreshing perspective on life.
NJ.com: How does it feel to be back in Atlantic City?
Mencia: It was awesome and better than last time. Great crowd, great reaction, it was just amazing. Especially here in AC, you just get really good pockets from the surrounding areas that make it more of an eclectic kind of show. So it forces me to put on a different type of show which is really fun.
Table Games or Slots?
Mencia: Table games, man. I'm a Baccarat guy. Statistically, and it's high improbable and the odds are ridiculous, but it's the only game out there where you can win every hand...It's kind of like 21, but just imagine that you think you are going to lose this hand and the dealer is going to win, then you can bet on the dealer instead of yourself.
When I was young and didn't have money, I liked gambling because winning and losing was fun for the rush of it. The amount of money that I would have to put down now to get that rush, there is no f'ing way I'm going to do it. It's just stupid. I would rather get that rush some other way.
Your comedy is often seen as derogatory, why do you gravitate towards that type of material?
Mencia: I don't see any of that. Like I know people describe that, but I really believe that is the descriptive nature of the way people depict comedy today and it takes away from the essence of the fact that it's a joke...everything I do is intended to make people laugh and think. I just think something is funny, it's not hurting anybody, not stabbing anybody, not shooting anybody, not making anybody watch me perform. There are thousands of comedians, don't come see me because it's not like I hide it.
Do you think that people are overly politically correct nowadays?
Mencia: [mid question] Yes, way too much. Listen, here's my questions to anybody when they talk about comedy. When you are with your friends who don't judge you, what do you say? And if that's appropriate to say with your friends, why is it not appropriate anywhere else. Like I hate those people who judge me and are hypocrites. People want to complain...my point especially when it comes to racial humor is... we have that diversity, so I don't look at it like we are making fun of people, I look at it as how awesome is it that we can talk about this stuff, that we do have this kind of diversity, that we do live in a country that shows an array, unlike any other in the world.
There are a lot of G-d jokes in your routine, are you a religious person?
Mencia: I'm a spiritual person, I believe that if you read the bible, you get what you want from it. But, when you actually read it, you see the beauty, spirituality, the joy and love and what makes us godly. And then if you read between the lines of all the same books, you always see the human influence in the writing...it's not all about religiousness, it's about spirituality.
You hosted Mind of Mencia, do you have future plans?
Mencia: You know what, I stopped doing Mind of Mencia because it got hard and there was a lot of fighting and it was just time to move on. For the past three years, I haven't been ready to go back on TV, it didn't feel like the right time. As the artist, you have to live in order to experience life to put that out there, and when you are successful in America and in the world, your point of view is the 5% and not the 95%, but you have to represent the 95% so you have to find a way to experience life the way they do. So when I stopped doing Mind of Mencia, that's what I wanted to do. As opposed to "Where's my limo" or "What do you mean, I don't pay for dinner...they give it to us for free", that type of lifestyle. You need to put that in perspective and then get past that to sense real human interaction, and when that happens, I can write really good stuff, because then it's not just fluff, it's something deeper and more meaningful.
Your parents had eighteen children and you are number seventeen, did that factor into the evolution of your comedic career?
Mencia: It might have been. I think that what it was for me is my brain is very simple. Like when you break everything down..I see things in a simple way.. And that simplicity for some reason becomes funny to other people because they don't look at it that way.
In 2010, the Wall Street Journal noted that you, Dane Cook and Jay Leno were three of the most hated stand-ups by fellow comedians, did that actually help your career, like the whole saying "There is no such thing as bad publicity"?
Mencia; No, that's changed. The internet has made that different. Before, the opinions didn't come from people, so if the New York Times said something bad, it was the NY times. It's different now because people are saying it. And it's always easier to bring down your competition, as opposed to elevating yourself to a place where you want to be. But that is humanity.
How did you know you wanted to be a comic?
Mencia: Growing up, I didn't know anything about comedy and didn't know anything about comedians or what standup was. I grew up in the projects with no dream of anything, it was in my formatting when i got older and started talking to my friends about how I felt, they would be like, "dude, that's funny." Then one day my friend was like, "Dude, you don't understand how funny you are, you need to do standup"! I was like, what's that? Otherwise I would've done electrical engineering and built computers or something. I may have been avant-garde enough to work for Apple, I'm that kind of brainy weird, do something kind of different guy. May have been interesting.
You've had great success in your comedic career, what are some key factors that made you stand out from the rest of your peers?
Mencia: I think that early on in my career, it was blinders. That was part of the reason why a lot of comics didn't like me before, because I didn't spend time with them. I didn't drink, I didn't smoke, I don't commiserate and talk shit about other comics who are more successful than me. It doesn't make any sense to me. Whereas today, I am able to breathe and take in the world indifferently and I can have a conversation now, whereas I wasn't able to back then.
It's also the difference in knowing and believing. Like when you are younger, you pretend to believe, but you are proving it to everyone and to yourself. The change comes when you know you're funny on the inside. Then you don't have to prove it to anybody else anymore. That's when you become different and that's when you evolved onto a completely different level, because you know who you are.
Are you still getting beef from the whole Joe Rogan debacle?
Mencia; I never had beef with him, he had beef with me. I never, nor will I, put another person down to feel better about myself. I will live and die by what I do, not what anyone else thinks about me. And at the end of the day, I don't think I am going to be judged by what happened in the 90's and 2000's, at the end of the day my career will be judged from beginning to end and everything in between. So I'm okay with that. This is life man, it's good and bad. I don't want to spend my time thinking about somebody else, I want to spend my time just being me and embracing life and living it and being there. At the end of the day, I'm responsible for my words and my thoughts and that's how I live.
What are the moments when you feel that you've made it?
Mencia: If you had to bet, you would think the moments that get me are when I am at a 5-star, thousand dollar for four people place, that's when I go "Wow, what I great life I have". That's not it. For me, I think the last time I got really emotional was a few months back. I literally bought a 6-inch subway. As a guy who's making it, I teared up and thought, wow I can buy a sandwich for myself. This is my money, my sandwich, I don't need anybody, I'm successful in life enough to buy myself a f'ing sandwich. And those are the moments in life, that become meaningful.
What's the best feedback you've heard from a fan?
Mencia: It's not words. It's the grandfather, father and son all coming to see me perform and me knowing that they don't get together all the time. That I'm the reason for those generations of family to get together and spend time. And they are doing it because of me, that's amazing. There is nothing like that, it's a sobering thought.
Whitney is an on-air multimedia personality, and works behind the scenes helping businesses gain extra exposure, through her WIN Promotions video production services.