To purchase tickets to Carlos Mencia’s show, https://www.sandseventcenter.com/events/carlos-mencia/
The legend that is Carlos Mencia is coming to The Sands Bethlehem Event Center on September 28, 2018, and he took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with The Valley Ledger about his tour and his stop in Bethlehem, PA.
Hi Carlos, Everyone is so excited that you are coming to The Sands Bethlehem Event Center. What can we expect from you and why did you decide to call this tour, LAUGHIN’ and LIVIN’?
C.M. Because, I just feel like people today in America, we just need to be reminded of how good we have it. I am making people laugh right now at the absurdity of our inability to even want to laugh. It is such a great period of time. It is bad too you know. It is like anything else right? It is a risk-reward. I think that right now people are clamoring and wanting to feel like a human. They want to feel like a part of something bigger, and that’s what comedy is at its core. When I tell a joke, and everybody laughs at that moment. Everybody is seeing the exact same thing from the exact same perspective, and that’s why they are laughing at it. I think that it’s elemental in today’s world, especially in today’s America to just laugh a little bit and not take ourselves so seriously. There are voices out there that want us to be amped up, be weirded out and, fighting. I am not that voice. My voice is a calming, soothing voice of lets laugh, let’s be together. Let’s laugh at ourselves, and it is okay to laugh at each other as well. As long as I am willing to laugh at me, then it is okay if I laugh at you too and vice-versa.
I know for a fact that people are just receiving my performances and I haven’t seen it in a long time. I haven’t seen this level of people feeling divided and this level of people feeling united when they come to see my shows.
I agree, and for example, I have been through a great deal of horrible stuff in my life and good stuff. I have always looked to laughter, and I have watched so many of your specials. As they say, “Laughter is the best medicine.”
C.M. Well, it is because it does a lot of things at the same time. One of them it makes you laugh, releasing endorphins, number two it opens up your mind and you become non-defensive because you’re not trying to defend anything. You are just laughing at whatever the performance is. The absurdity of the material, the execution of it, the point-of-view, the perspective. And also, at the same time you begin to feel normal, you begin to feel like Oh my God, I thought I was the only person that was feeling this way. I thought I was the only person that was feeling sad or I was the only person that has a life like this. I make people laugh, but I also don’t go up there and pretend that life isn’t reality and that reality doesn’t affect us. I just attack reality and say, look this is funny and its real and its okay. We were sad about this two days ago and it’s okay that we were sad about this.
But, today were going to laugh at this. It is very much needed right now. To see that moment where I tell a joke and people OH MY GOD and there is a boom of emotion, laughter and applause. There is NOTHING like it in the world and right now I feel like I’m really needed. I feel like America really wants me to do this.
Now, when you were growing up? Did you always know that you wanted to do this?
C.M. Oh god no. I discovered that I was funny after high school. I was going to college, I was working at Farmers Insurance. My buddies were the ones that said, “You’re really funny.” It took me a long time to understand how to be funny. What I was, was a frustrated human being who saw the world through common sense and just didn’t see a lot of people with common sense. My brain was always formatted to see the word from a Carlos perspective. I didn’t know how to go on-stage and make that funny. I didn’t know that was a possibility until I was nineteen-years-old. So I wasn’t that guy. I didn’t go on-stage like a lot of comics and say oh man when I first started doing stand-up I was Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, or I was George Carlin. Not me, I didn’t know comedy. I started doing comedy and working at The Comedy Store and so my idols or the people that I look up to are people that I watched perform live at The Comedy Store https://thecomedystore.com/ as a young comedian and those are the guys that I saw and they were the guys working hard. They taught me little lessons. This is how you tell this type of a joke, this is how you commit to a character. So, my heroes so to speak in comedy are just a bunch of no-names and renegades and most of all you know they never made it to that upper, upper tier of comedy but, they were amazing and they were amazing teachers.
When you are writing. You always talk about real-life stuff and what is going on in the world. And especially today with everything going on in the world. When do you write, do you have a certain type of process that goes on in your mind?
C.M. Yes, what I do is, I ignore the overt actions right.
C.M. “I’m a Trump supporter.” “I hate Trump.” That doesn’t matter to me. That is a big thing, it is not little. Why are you inclined to want to hate or want to defend? What is that emotion? What is it that America is feeling? I want to think about why are we venerable to either defend something that is indefensible or to hate something even though there are positive aspects to it. That is the beginning of my writing process. Then from there it begins to branch out to like, well we feel this way because we didn’t talk about this. We pay so much attention to our kids and we become helicopter parents. My mom couldn’t be a helicopter parent because she had too many kids. Did that make her a better mom? Will that make us better parents? Then it begins to form all these points of views and opinions. Once that happens, I am tapped into an emotion. Once I am tapped into an emotion I can pull out comedic examples to people as to why I see the world the way I see it. I don’t care what side of the aisle you are on, I want to tap into the emotion. That then becomes now just a joke but a reinforcement. Laughter gets you naked and it reveals. Then boom, we can get into a real comedic, fun, beautiful place. Then later on the way home, the next day or the day after a serious conversation ensues with those people that saw the show. The process is backwards for me because I know I can make stuff funny. I never want to say anything on-stage that is not funny for the point of making a point. I am okay with not having to write funny stuff in the beginning. I find the emotional content first and then I make it funny.
That makes a lot of sense. That is a good process. You have a series called, “Ned’s Head” that is so funny. Are you possibly going to incorporate that into the show? Also do you have any new projects coming up?
C.M. Not in the stand-up but I am going to start doing that again and bring it up. It was a really fun way to put our comedy that was trending so to speak. That allows me to go online, listen to the radio or listen to the news and go, people were told to get out of the hurricane path and they didn’t so they got stuck on a roof. So is that something I want to talk about? So bring Ned’s Head and let me talk about that. It’s not going to be stand-up funny in the sense that it’s not boom, boom… punchline, punchline. But, I can write something that has a different melody to it that has a different flow to it. So what I’m searching for right now is how to incorporate a bit of Mencia, Ned’s Head and also how to incorporate the podcast into one big entity because I am in the middle of finishing up the writing of a special. So, I can come out with a new special that I am going to be recording within the next few months. Hopefully it will air at the end of the year or the beginning of next year. Also, I am writing three television projects. Right now I am working on so much stuff.
Do you think it is more difficult to perform for a smaller crowd of for a larger crowd? You have performed all over and in huge arenas. Do you feel it keeps you humble?
C.M. I don’t know if it keeps me humble? I am sure it does. It does remind me that I should always be focused on the people that are there, not the people that are not. I have so many friends who used to sell three or four thousand seats and now they barely sell out a comedy club. Or they fill the club but they don’t sell it out and they are pissed and upset. Going to comedy clubs and small rooms reminds me that I don’t do this for the money but I also do this for the people that are there. I want to be there with those hundred people. When I am performing in front of ten thousand people, it is hard to tell the difference between ninety-five percent laughs and one hundred percent laughs. You just can’t. The room is too big and the cheering is too loud. But, in a room of a hundred people, I can do that. So if I am going to perform a show in front of two thousand people for a special. I want to rehearse that in a smaller club. I don’t want to do it in a big room where I can’t tell the difference. At every level, at every venue I perform at, I maximize laughter. Then I can begin to put it together in a point of view. It is also unbelievably rewarding. To make people laugh, to make people say oh my god, I didn’t look at it that way. That is beyond laughter.
This may be a sort of bad example on my part but I have been through a lot of horrible stuff and I listen to the podcast you do. There are times you just want to quit some days.
C.M. Of course.
And I will listen to something inspiring or something that makes you laugh like one of your specials. To say that it gets a lot of people through a lot of stuff and you have gotten me through a lot of stuff is true.
C.M. I am really glad. To be honest with you. It is difficult for a lot of people to understand this. I have been able to be funny for a very long time. So once I learned how to be funny, I wanted to learn how to be funny with a point of a view and a perspective so that I can affect people. So your story is something that I aim for. It’s not a surprise. I am thankful and I am grateful that I am able to do that. It is hard work to do that. It is something that I actually think about. Changing lives and affecting people. It isn’t something that just happens and I go, “oh wow, that happened.” Wow, I never look at it that way. I do look at it that way. I do hear stories like yours and they do affect me tremendously throughout my lifetime. So, I am grateful for the opportunity to do it. Know that I do have that in my brain when I am writing, processing, when I am trying to figure out all of that stuff.
When you think about comedy. What does comedy mean to you and do you have anyone that inspires you professionally?
C.M. You know what’s funny, I was talking to somebody earlier about this. They asked me that and I said, it’s my dad. My dad inspires so much of my comedy because he used the world in a way that I want to see it and with a purity that even alludes me. He is not a stand-up, never has been but he’s always viewed the world from that funny perspective where he goes, “did you see this” or “can you believe that?” It cuts through all the bullshit and goes to a truth that is so elemental and funny and it just reveals everything. I look up to my dad in that perspective. As far as the way I see comedy. I see comedy as… I remember performing in Corpus Christi, Texas was the first time I’ve had an out of body experience on-stage and they are very rare and infrequent but they’ve happened multiple times. I am literally on-stage looking at myself telling jokes and thinking, “Holy sh*t, that’s me making these people laugh.” It is what I believe I was put on this earth to do. I was built as a human being to be funny, to do what I do and affect people’s lives. I’ve known that for a very long time. It is rare that I say this to people because we live in a society where self-confidence and self-realization sometimes rubs people the wrong way because people want you to be humble. They don’t understand that humility has nothing to do with me pretending that I don’t know what I am doing or I don’t know how good I am at what I do or I don’t know how to do it. Humility from my perspective comes from being humble to the process, being humble to the gift, being humble to the work, being humble to the ethics. Yet there has to be a certain level of confidence in order for me to be funny because I don’t ask people do you think this is funny? I tell people this if funny. That takes a certain level of self-awareness and a lot of people are turned off by that because they’re not self-aware so they begin to project on you their feelings of inadequacy or their feelings of whatever it is that they feel from a negative perspective and push that on you. So in those moments it becomes a very tricky balance of how much of that do I hide so people don’t get pushed away from it. At the same time there is a certain level required or else people are not going to believe that I believe what I am saying and that is elemental to the process of making people laugh as well.
I agree and that makes so much sense on so many levels. What do you want to say to the fans and to the audience that will be coming to The Sands Bethlehem Event Center and future shows as well?
C.M. You know what, to get ready and to expect the unexpected. The shows that I am putting out right now are just the type of shows where you come and sit down, open your mind and expect nothing. You are going to have the most amazing, comedic and emotional ride. That is what I am providing right now. I am in tuned and so excited. I cannot wait. Every night I cannot wait to get on-stage. When I am on-stage I don’t want to get off-stage, I cannot wait to meet the people and take pictures. Once that is done, I cannot wait to go to sleep and wake up and do it all over again. So I want fans to know that I am appreciative of all the years of support and kindness, of love and know that I will do my best to reciprocate that with the best shows I could possibly do. Right now, they are amazing. Be prepared for an amazing and great show.
It was an absolute honor to speak with you for The Valley Ledger. You are amazing and so talented and funny. I wish you all the best. Thank you so much.
C.M. Thank you so much. It was very enlightening speaking to you.
For even more Mencia, check out the links below…
To purchase tickets to Carlos Mencia’s show, https://www.sandseventcenter.com/events/carlos-mencia/
Interviews & Articles By: Janel Spiegel
“May your nightmares inspire you.” JMS