Mencia Returns to Toledo: Comedian prepares for four-night gig at Fat Fish BlueWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s all about growing, evolving, progressing. As comedian Carlos Mencia — late of the series “Mind of Mencia” and veteran of over 25 years on the stand-up comedy circuit — prepares to take the stage at Fat Fish Blue in Perrysburg for a four-night gig beginning July 24, he said that what drives his comedy is a desire to never rest on his laurels.
“I mean, it’s like anything else. You got to grow, or you remain stagnant. And in comedy, stagnant just means bad and boring,” Mencia said in an interview with Toledo Free Press. “It’s nothing that I can do. For me, it’s really simple. For me it’s keep living, keep having fire about life, and everything else comes. As long as I’m able to get really happy, or really agitated, or really bothered by seemingly mundane things, I can be funny.”
There always has to be a goal, though. For Mencia, right now the goal is assembling material for a new stand-up special he is working on. He noted that the show is coming together, and audience members who see his gig at Fat Fish Blue will get a big sample of what the special will consist of. “Right now, the stuff that I’m working on is going to be pretty much 80% of what the special’s going to be,” he noted.
Through years of success, controversy, triumph and pain, Mencia has never wavered in his view of what comedy can be. The comic may have overseen a shift in what his act consists of and his own stage persona over time, but Mencia remains philosophical about what the function of the comedian means to the audience who sees one.
“For me, it’s more about moments — moments in time. What I see right now is, in essence, a bunch of people telling us that, basically, we have to be perfect. And to think bad thoughts, or to feel bad things, or what other people think are bad. And you’re not supposed to do that. And I just think that we’re human beings. And the internet shouldn’t be the only place that people go to have refuge.
“Comedy should be, and has been, that refuge for a really, really long time. It’s where Richard Pryor went to talk about the realities of life. It’s where George Carlin went. It’s where Cosby went. Whatever the truth is, it seems like comedy — within the past 40 years or so — is the place where people come to get that. Because we’re the ones that can truly talk about the things that happen in the world.”
Mencia’s perspective is certainly colored by his life experiences. Born in Honduras in 1967, the young budding comic was raised an immigrant in East Los Angeles, staying out of trouble under the watchful eye of his aunt and uncle. He said that growing up in such environs has given him a particular perspective on the American dream — but that hasn’t gotten in the way of relating to the crowds who he performs for every night.
“I see myself as an American, but I know that I’m an immigrant. I know I wasn’t born here, but my perspective has never, ever, ever been, ‘Those are not my people,’” Mencia said, referring to his audience. “I have performed in front of every type of crowd, and never, ever have I thought, ‘This isn’t my audience.’”
Certainly Mencia’s experience in media gives him a leg up on interacting with his audiences. His Comedy Central series Mind of Mencia ran for three seasons, putting him in America’s homes for over three years. Add in his numerous CDs and stand-up specials, and Carlos has an automatic rapport with comedy club crowds.
“It’s like — I go onstage, and I get this feeling of love and happiness. Because audiences are there to laugh. They’re all ready to laugh, they’ve put so much aside, they’ve already met me — we’re beyond halfway there.”
Still, Mencia noted, no matter what fans may be prepared for when they come out to see him, he hopes to give them more. Not only in terms of exceeding their expectations, but also in using comedy’s natural ability in bringing people a new perspective on life.
“The difference in comedy is, most of the time, we don’t pick sides. We make fun of both sides, or whatever side, but when people come to see us, they’re not necessarily in that place. I think that they’re laughing, their hearts are open, their minds are open, and we just see the world from a curious perspective. And I think if we do anything, we just make people go, ‘Oh, wow, I didn’t think of it that way before.’”
Carlos Mencia will be performing at the Funny Bone at Fat Fish Blue in Perrysburg from July 24 through July 27.