Carlos Mencia is rolling with a new attitude these days. He’s lost 70 pounds—and kept it off—for nearly a year now, and his comedy these days has shed some weight as well.
“I used to be an angry comic,” Mencia admitted in a recent phone interview. “I’d flip on the TV and wouldn’t see my people represented. I mean, even a film called ‘Green Card’ starred Gérard Depardieu. Yea, that’s what people think of when they think of green cards—the French. But now I can flip through the channels and see Hispanics on most of the top shows—and it’s chilled me out, and brought me back around to observations based on their humorous nature alone.”
Mencia’s most recent Comedy Central special, “New Territory” which premiered in December, features the slimmed down funnyman presenting, as he calls it, “new material with a fresh perspective.”
“I can be brutally honest to a fault sometimes,” Mencia says. “But my style is about just putting it out there. Observations based on the real world, not the ‘ideal world’ that everyone wants to see. There’s rarely a night when I don’t think to myself, ‘I can’t believe I actually said that on stage.’”
His outrageous brand of comedy had just as an outrageous start. Growing up in Los Angeles, Mencia wasn’t a fan of stand up comedy and admits his father and the reaction of his coworkers were his inspiration to start performing onstage.
“I’d come into work and make all of these funny observations about current events and my coworkers would just laugh and laugh,” he says. “They pushed me to go try it out in front of an audience and the first time I did I was hooked. Quit my job, got a gig as the doorman at the comedy club and started a career right then and there.”
Since those days in the early 1990s, Mencia has worked hard to become one of America’s most popular comics. In fact, he received a CableACE Award nomination for Best Stand Up Comedy Special for his HBO Special in 2002. That nod got the attention of Comedy Central, which led to a few specials and a solo DVD before they teamed up to develop the stand-up/skit show “Mind of Mencia” which premiered in 2005. One of the strongest shows in the network’s history, “Mind of Mencia” averaged roughly 1.5 million viewers each week and established Mencia in the mainstream of American comedy.
Carlos Mencia delivers his latest round of stand-up material live in Chattanooga on Friday and Saturday, March 9 and 10 at the Vaudeville Café. Asked what he thought about returning to the South, Mencia spoke of his last experience around these parts.
“Last time I was down there I was invited to go noodling—you know—where you stick your bare hand in a hole and pull out a catfish,” Mencia recalls. “That may be OK for you guys, but I don’t like any kind of hunting where I’m the bait.”
7 and 9:30 p.m., Friday, March 9
8 and 10:30 p.m., Saturday, March 10
Vaudeville Café 138 Market St.
(423) 517-1839 funnydinner.com