"If you don't know who I am yet, you've been living under a fucking rock!" So claimed Carlos Mencia in a commercial for his Comedy Central show, Mind of Mencia, and no quote more perfectly encapsulates the unabashed hubris that makes him so easy to hate. Not only was it disgustingly shameless, it was completely unwarranted. Mind of Mencia, which was added to Comedy Central's lineup in summer 2005 to fill the void left by Chappelle's Show, received mediocre ratings throughout the entirety of its first season. Still, Mencia insisted that he was the edgy, biting voice America needed. And as Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Propaganda Minister, once said, "If you tell a lie big enough and continue to repeat it, people will eventually come to believe it."
Since then, Mind of Mencia has risen to the second-highest rated show on Comedy Central, bitter evidence of how stupid the mass of Americans really are. It ranks slightly behind South Park, a laughable juxtaposition comparable to pitting Stephen Hawking against Vince Carter in a dunk contest. Mencia, who likes to call himself "The Punisher", fancies himself a groundbreaking social satirist. He will have you believe he serves up an in-your-face, everyone's-thinking-it-I'm-the-only-one-who's-got-the-balls-to-say-it style of commentary, most of it focusing on race. But in order to ingratiate himself with everyone, he takes care to follow a distinct formula of "egalitarian racism" in which he makes pokes fun at all ethnicities, not the least being his own (apparently Comedy Central gives him a cookie every time he uses the word "beaner", which would also explain his rotund features). Often at the end of his show, Mencia will even tie it altogether with a heartfelt, cliché-ridden plea for the world to just get along or to adopt the ability to laugh at oneself, mechanically prompting the audience's applause. I just threw up a little inside my mouth.
Mencia's fans claim that his appeal lies in his glorious absence of political correctness. He's not afraid of what's deemed proper and just speaks his mind, ergo his show's title. He's a progressive vigilante whose genius is that he uses to racism as a way shed light on its inanity. And the only reason people don't like him is because he's just too controversial and offensive. Mencia's "hard-hitting" style of humor is just too edgy for some people to handle.
Anti-Mencians (read: everybody with an IQ higher than seaweed) have also made themselves heard. Probably the most popular claim among Mencia's dissenters is that he steals jokes. Investigators have unearthed what they find to be uncanny resemblances between Mencia's act and those of other comics, including Bill Cosby, Sam Kinison, and D.L. Hughley. Back in February, fellow comic Joe Rogan confronted him on stage during one of Mencia's gigs at the Comedy Store in Hollywood. A video of their fired exchange was posted on Rogan's website and soon widely disseminated on YouTube. In the video, Rogan calls Mencia out in front of his own audience, listing off several instances of thievery from various comics, and even reveals Mencia's real name, Ned Holness. As Rogan pulls the wool from over the audience's eyes, their collective hooting and mumbling, initially in support of Mencia, moves over to his side. Throughout the lambasting, which lasts nearly ten minutes, Mencia, with all the wit you'd expect from an angsty seventh-grader, can come up with no better retort than to repeatedly call Rogan a "little bitch".
Apparently Rogan was just the bugle boy for a sentiment that had long been festering in comedic circles. Other comics who have since voiced their Mencia-hate are Jimmy Kimmel, Ari Shaffir, and Bobby Lee. Fellow Latino comic George Lopez even punched Mencia in the face backstage at another LA comedy club. In the world of stand-up comedy, Carlos Mencia is the annoying kid with no friends who still somehow found a way to the party.
The reason I hate Carlos Mencia is not because he is overly offensive or tactless. And in perfect fairness, I don't particularly agree that he steals jokes. Realistically, when hundreds of comedians are tackling broad issues like marriage, race, sex, or politics, there is likely to be some overlap. No, my disdain for Mencia is much simpler than that. Carlos Mencia fails to live up to the single requirement that his occupation entailshe is not funny. He is the worst thing to happen to American entertainment since MTV, and his rise to fame is one of the most disturbing occurrences of this decade.
Let me just spell this out. If we were to plot the entire spectrum of stand-up comedy linearly, at the high end would be such greats as Jim Gaffigan, Louis CK, and Mitch Hedberg: these men can spew nothing but hilarity. Somewhere around the middle you'd find the likes of Jeff Foxworthy, Lewis Black, and Dave Attell: hit-or-miss acts who should nonetheless allay the frustrations of any channel-surfer. Near the bottom, you'd find Carrot Top, Dane Cook (yes, fellow 18-24 year olds, Cook is horrible, but that's an entirely different rant) and Larry The Cable Guy, none of whom should have advanced beyond gigs on cruise ships. At the absolute nadir, ranking slightly below watching your own mother get gang-raped by the entire Dallas Cowboys offensive line, would be Carlos Mencia.
One of the major arguments in favor of racism is that it is predicated on stereotypes that are mostly true. Carlos would likely agree. In fact, his show hinges on this idea. However, in its worst form, hate can be entirely misdirected. A series of unfortunate events, an inordinate amount of press coverage, or even one bad apple, can ruin it for an entire people (see the demonization of Arabs post-9/11 or your Klan chapter induction a week after you lost your starting point-guard spot to Jamaal). In this vein, Carlos Mencia has unfortunately given many less-worldly Americans a new reason to hate Mexicans.
Meanwhile, Mencia's fame continues to grow. He had a role in last year's Ben Stiller comedy The Heartbreak Kid, playing a Mexican who smuggles illegals into America, which I'm sure he had a field day with. In addition, the fourth season of his show premieres this week. He will, of course, be doing what he does best, hopping on the easiest racial jokes possible, riding them to death, then simultaneously defecating and vomiting on their carcasses. And viewers will love him for it. In the meantime, there will be a special place down in hell reserved for Carlos Mencia, right near Lil John and Abercrombie & Fitch.
Please, if you happen to overhear somebody openly identify themselves as a Carlos Mencia fan, do humanity a favor and immediately punch that person in the throat.