Comico Es Comico
Latino funnyman Carlos Mencia puts a little uplift in his skits.
Thursday, April 24, 2003
Carlos Mencia is doing fairly well for himself these days. As an electrical engineering student at Cal State Univ. Los Angeles who was also holding down a full-time job at Farmer''s Insurance, Mencia decided on a lark to go try out amateur night at the Laugh Factory. A month later he was on his way to being a regular at the Comedy Store, and earning fans with his own brand of humor.
Now, somehow having been elevated past the point of needing to prove himself, he hosts a show on SiTV that highlights new Latino comedic talent. He was also nominated for a CableACE award for best comedy special--against none other than George Carlin. It seems this up-and-comer has finally arrived.
Rather than sticking to the mainstream, Mencia has made a name for himself by doing what he wants to do. He says that as much as his job is about making people laugh, it''s also about educating and empowering the Latino community through his humor.
This is a man who believes in the power of laughter--in laughing at the world and also at ourselves. "The truth makes people laugh," Mencia says. Rather than just going for a cheap laugh, Mencia makes people think as well.
For example, SiTV is a station that''s just getting off the ground, offering Spanish and English programming targeted at bilingual Americans. The programs are meant to be fresh, aimed at a younger set who want to integrate both cultures into something whole. Mencia seems a perfect match for a station with such lofty goals. His humor contains insight as well as levity.
Mencia''s honesty has gained him some criticism, though. The willingness to take potshots at every race, every social group, has garnered accusations of racism, or at the least, tactlessness. "How can I be racist?" Mencia asks. "Isn''t racism exclusionary? If all of you are offended, that''s because I''m including every race in my jokes."
The SiTV show, Funny is Funny, should help with his goals. Bringing up-and-coming Latino talent to the public eye is yet another way of bringing that culture''s perspectives into the light. Just as important is to be a role model. "I grew up in the projects," Mencia says, "And I know how important it is for kids to have hope. I want them to look at me and say, ''Man I could do that."''
Carlos Mencia laughs it up at Planet Gemini ThuR.-Sat. at 9:15pm.