Mencia, best known for his high-energy, straightforward outlook on topics such as politics, race, and culture, be-came a household name in the comedy world with his popular television show “Mind of Mencia,” which aired on Comedy Central from 2005-08.
With nearly a quarter-century in entertainment, sold-out tours, his own TV show, and roles in major motion pic-tures, Mencia says sometimes it’s shows in towns like Chattanooga that excite him the most.
“I absolutely love events at smaller venues,” Mencia said in a phone interview Tuesday evening. “It’s a more in-timate setting. The crowds are so much more receptive and appreciate, and a lot of time the smaller shows turn out to be the best shows.”
Vaudeville Café, famous for its “Murder Mystery Dinner Shows,” began housing stand-up comedy shows in April 2011 and has quickly become a hotspot for up-and-coming local comics, nationally touring comics, and bigger names like Mencia.
“We’ve been doing our dinner shows for almost 12 years and have been very successful in that regard, and now we’re taking it to the next level with our stand-up comedy,” said Vaudeville owner Chris Hampton. “We are glad to have such an enormous talent at our place this weekend.”
Whether it is his man-on-the-street interviews, studio comedy, commercial parodies, nationwide sold-out tours, or films, Mencia continuously demonstrates an extraordinary ability to bring down the house with his in-your-face-style and hilarious stage antics while touching on a number of diverse subjects.
The Honduran-born American comedian, writer and actor has become famous for his abrasive style of comedy, which addresses political, racial, cultural and social issues in today’s society.
Mencia began his career doing stand-up on amateur night at the comedy club, Laugh Factory. He later show-cased at The Comedy Store and became a regular, performing nightly. After he found success on the L.A comedy circuit, Mencia was named "International Comedy Grand Champion" from Buscando Estrellas (the Latino version of Star Search). This led to appearances on “In Living Color,” “The Arsenio Hall Show,” “Moesha” and “An Evening at the Improv.” In 1994, he hosted the HBO comedy series “Loco Slam” and in 1998 he hosted “Funny is Funny!” on Galavision. Mencia released a comedy album in 2000 called “Take a Joke, America” that showcased his brand of humor.
His half-hour television show, “Mind of Mencia,” debuted on Comedy Central in early 2005 and became one of the strongest shows in the network’s history, averaging about 1.5 million total viewers. “Mind of Mencia” was execu-tive produced by Carlos Mencia and Robert Morton (“Late Night with David Letterman”).
Since 2007, he has embarked on a USO Tour every holiday season to the Persian Gulf to entertain the troops serving overseas.
In the summer of 2009, he kicked off a nationwide comedy tour titled “The Administration of Laughter,” which brought him to excited audiences around the country.
In March 2010, Mencia starred in the family comedy “Our Family Wedding” alongside America Ferrara and Forrest Whitaker.
In the last couple years, Mencia chose to go back to his comedic roots, performing at a number of comedy stores throughout the country, which allows him to share his newest material with more intimate audiences.
Mencia currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife Amy and their son Lucas.
Q&A with Carlos Mencia
What do you think separates you from other comics and/or draws audiences to your shows?
“I think that it all comes down to honesty man. If things are dumb or messed up, why not point it out and talk about it? Whether it’s politics, race, crimes, whatever … Real events and topics are funny, and people can relate to it when you talk about how stupid things are … Stupid is everywhere, and it runs crazy. For example, how dumb do you have to be to get caught nowadays as a criminal? With technology, and all the information that is available to us, it just blows my mind. Especially when there are shows on TV. about how not to get caught and how people al-most got away with things.
What can people who’ve never been to one of your shows expect when they come to see you life for the first time?
“The biggest thing with my shows is the when people come to see me, they’re getting a show and an experience that is unique to that particular night. A lot of comics have an exact idea of what they want to do on stage in their shows. I’m a little different in that I don’t go out there with an agenda. For me it’s more about carrying on a conver-sation with the audience. And I don’t mean them getting loud and talking back or heckling, or whatever…It’s more of a situation where my show goes where it goes based on the laughs and the feedback from the audience. I want to keep of the integrity of the conversation and play to the audience’s input. An ‘ooh,’ and ‘ahh,’ a hiss…it’s all part of it man, and it’s great. Also, each show I do is different because of the different audiences. One thing we’re going to be doing with the Chattanooga shows is we are going to be recording the shows, and people can buy a copy of the show that they were at, the actual show they just saw, right there at the club as they’re leaving. That way it’s a little dif-ferent from buying a copy somewhere or watching a recorded special. They have the exact show that they were at and experienced.
What is your favorite thing about doing stand-up comedy?
“My favorite thing about stand-up has to be the immediacy of it all and the relationship you build with the crowds. It’s truthful, it’s honest, it’s real, and it’s live in the purest possible sense. It’s like I said man, I love keeping up the integrity of the conversation. The audiences make my life what it is, and I will always appreciate them and be there for them. They come out and they buy their tickets, so I owe it to them to give them their money’s worth and to be honest with them. Comedians are like philosophers bro…we have real moments on stage…it’s raw, it’s intro-spective, and we say and talk about things that other people are afraid to say, or feel like they can’t say.
What: Carlos Mencia Live
Where: Hampton’s Vaudeville Café.
When: Friday, March 9, at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and Saturday, March 10, at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
Cost: All tickets are $25.
Ticket information: funnydinner.com, or 423-517-1839