Call him offensive and obnoxious, but Carlos Mencia says he only verbalizes what people are thinking — and are too chicken to say themselves.
Born in Honduras and raised in east Los Angeles, Mencia, 41, tackles issues of race, culture and social class up front and personal. His show, Mind of Mencia, airs Wednesday nights on Comedy Central.
Mencia, 41, takes his act on the road for a jam-packed schedule of shows, including one Sunday at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. While in town, expect him to hit Bahama Breeze, his posse's favorite spot.
"It's kind of tradition,'' he said. "I don't think it's on purpose, but we've been there, like, seven times. One of my friends, every time he goes there he meets a girl.''
While en route to a gig in Baltimore, tbt* spoke with Mencia about electing Barack Obama and bailing out "stupid people.''
Growing up one of 18 kids, what were the holidays like?
I would hear apologies. Because when you're in a big family you all love each other but you definitely don't like each other, and you definitely don't get along. So it's, 'Sorry, I didn't mean that. I love you.' It's beautiful to watch. And then someone brings tequila and beer to the party and then, about an hour-and-a-half later, it's like, 'Your wife's a whore!' Every one of our family reunions ended with, 'Hey, I've gotta go. Your dad stabbed my dad.'
What's the story behind your original first name, Ned?
My mom named me Ned because she knew we were coming to America and she wanted to give me a name that blended in, which is great if we were moving to Mobile or St. Petersburg, maybe. But not in east L.A. I got my ass beat. When you're surrounded by Jose, Roberto and Manuel, Ned kind of sticks out.
You're often called an equal opportunity offender. Do you take that as a compliment?
I take it as a compliment because what they mean by that is I make fun of everybody and I'm not a racist.
How do you come up with material?
It touches me. I'm an artist that way. Something either grabs me or it doesn't. I don't literally sit down and write with pen and paper. For me, it's very emotional. I'm definitely inspired by whatever it is.
I've heard that comedians think Obama is hard to poke fun at. Do you agree?
Jesus, no. God, no. I'm already making fun of the guy. You gotta learn how to break people down. What is it about the guy that's funny. I mean it's funny that everybody ignores the fact that in order to be smart and as eloquent as that guy, you had to have been a nerd in high school. We voted in an Urkel. That's hysterical.
Is any subject off limits?
No. The only subject that I won't talk about is something that is meaningful but not funny. I'm not going to go on stage and tell you who you should vote for.
What's your take on the government bailouts?
We've been bailing out people forever. It's just part of being an American.
Bailing out people like who?
Stupid people. Did you have apple pies at McDonald's when they were deep-fried and delicious? Well, you and I can no longer have those because idiots who didn't know or who didn't understand that hot apple pie meant hot apple pie burned themselves. We bail out smokers by giving them money after they got cancer when they knew that smoking was bad for them. It goes on and on. In school we made things easier and easier so that the dumb kids can be there as opposed to, 'Hey, catch up, because this is the agenda.' We make everything easier for the dumbass.