The Comedy Store was akin to a comedy factory during the ’80s. A plethora of stand-ups who scored television vehicles emerged from Mitzi Shore’s Los Angeles club. Howie Mandel, Jim Carrey, Sam Kinison and Arsenio Hall were among those who entered the Sunset Strip destination as fledgling unknowns and left as stars.
Carlos Mencia was part of that crew. Shore gave the Honduran-born humorist direction and even changed his name from Ned to Carlos.
“Those were incredible times,” Mencia said. “That’s where it all started.”
Mencia, who will perform Sunday at the Spokane Comedy Club, hit comedy paydirt with his quirky series “The Mind of Mencia,” which ran for four years during the aughts.
The unpredictable Comedy Central show combined stand-up and sketch comedy. “Mind of Mencia” was Comedy Central’s second highest program, behind “South Park,” in 2006.
“So many doors opened for me while I was doing ‘Mind of Mencia,’” Mencia said.
Mencia, 54, is on the road and offers his observations on his country.
“America has gotten stagnant,” Mencia said. “People are comfortable where they are. We live in a society that doesn’t care about intellect. I think that’s because every American has the ability to answer whatever question they have, due to their device.”
Speaking of devices, many comics aren’t letting fans have access to their phones during shows. Stand-ups aren’t down with fans posting their bits on YouTube.
“I can see why comics do that, but I don’t care if you record every minute of my show,” Mencia said. “I understand that comics are concerned what they say could be taken out of context … That’s why I don’t like Twitter. If I write something it may not reflect my sarcasm. It’s a tricky world for comics. It’s not like it once was. It can be difficult, especially once you get to a certain level.”
In 2005 comic-podcaster Joe Rogan claimed that Mencia was pilfering material. Rogan dubbed Mencia ‘Carlosmenstealia’
“What happens in this country is that they like to build you up and then knock you off the pedestal,” Mencia said. “Me and Dane Cook were accused of stealing material, and nobody at that point was bigger than Dane. But what people like to do is knock you down. I have tangible proof that my jokes are mine. I’ve recorded every show I’ve done since 1994. Regarding Joe Rogan, I talked to him about it. He never accused me of anything specific. It was totally random.”
And Mencia is still performing 35 years after making his debut at the Comedy Store. “This is my passion, which I hope to continue doing for many more years,” Mencia said.
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