Carlos Mencia returns to ConnxtionsWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Carlos Mencia is in a very good mood.
“I am phenomenal, man,” the famous comedian said in an interview. “Life is good right now. I’m feeling a resurgence of some sort, some kind of energy out there. I don’t know what it is.”
Mencia is returning to Toledo for a two-day gig at Connxtions beginning Oct. 19. And it’s clear that a lot has changed for the Honduran-born comic since his last visit to the Glass City. For one thing, he’s barely even half the man he used to be — formerly portly, he has dropped a considerable amount of weight in the intervening months.
“Once I decided that I wanted to lose it — and what happened was, basically a buddy of mine got diagnosed with diabetes, and once that happened, it scared the hell out of me. He was about to get his toe amputated. And I go into the hospital room, and he looks at me, crying, going, ‘Look where I’m at, Carlos. And I love you. And I just want you to know, you’re fat, too.’ I was like, ‘Wait a minute! I’m here for you, bro! Are you serious?’
“And from that point on, I just said, it’s not gonna be me,” Mencia said. “I wanna be healthy, I definitely live that kinda lifestyle. And from that point, everything changed. And as soon as I said, ‘This is what I want,’ everything did. And I was really relieved.”
Going along with that major lifestyle change has been a major shift in the tone of Mencia’s humor and onstage character. The angry young man who once raged at the world has been muted, replaced by a more jovial persona. It’s a change that Mencia said fits right in with how he sees the world now — a decided contrast from who he first was when he stepped into the world of comedy more than 20 years ago.
“I grew up in the projects, and when you grow up in the projects, it’s really difficult, because everybody said, ‘Oh, you’re gonna be a comedian, oh, you’re gonna do this, oh, sure, you’re gonna do that.’ I mean, everything is negative — such a negative kind of environment. Even the jokes are negative,” Mencia said.
“And so, in order to get out of there, you have to adapt, and you have to adapt by putting on this armor of, ‘You know what? Despite what you say, I’m gonna make it.’ And that permeates through your entire life. And for me, that was a part of my comedy, as well.”
That kind of armor helped Mencia through his early days on the circuit, where he found it difficult to find footing — even after he had begun to make a national name for himself.
“But then again, what people don’t understand is, I remember being 22, 23 years old, and calling up clubs in Little Rock, Ark., — after a show I had on HBO. And the owner of the club at the time was like, ‘Well, we don’t have any Hispanics in Little Rock, so, we can’t bring you here.’ And I was like, ‘Whoa, I do my shows in English, bro! What are you talking about?’ And it’s funny how those things affect you,” he said.
But after years of being a major name in the comedy world, Mencia said the need to fight for respect and recognition is no longer the force that drives his humor.
“Things got to a point where I realized that I had changed, and what I was doing onstage didn’t match what I was feeling,” he said.
“I had a message to send out before, and the message was, ‘I’m worth it. Come and see me. I’m gonna prove that I’m funny. I’m gonna prove to you that I’m worthy. I’m gonna prove to you that I deserve this.’ That’s not my attitude anymore. My attitude is, if you wanna have the most unbelievable time, laugh so hard that the next day, and the next day, you’re just gonna be remembering jokes and laughing — please come see my show.
“That’s where I’m at. I got nothing to prove. I just wanna have fun.”
Mencia will appear at Connxtions Comedy Club on Oct. 19 and 20, with shows at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. both nights. Tickets are $29.95 and are available at www.connxtionscomedyclub.com/toledo/shows.