Carlos Mencia won't shut up.
(This isn't hyperbolic the guy legitimately won't stop talking.)
He's "on" right now, so he's going on and on. And there's nothing I can do about it. His voice just keeps getting louder and louder, his pitch higher and higher. Meanwhile, the looks I'm getting from my co-workers, who are overhearing pretty much every word of this call, are getting weirder and weirder.
Mencia moves along nonetheless, now screaming into the phone. He's not actually upset he's just ranting but that's Mencia. He's off the wall, over the top and in your face, almost to a fault.
About 20 minutes into the interview, once Mencia has fully run his off-the-cuff Valentine's Day (!) commentary into the ground, he starts to calm himself down. Finally, the character gets turned off. Now, it seems, he can be himself, and not the caricature of himself that he plays every week on his hit Comedy Central show, Mind of Mencia.
He's comfortable both within the moment and within his career. He acknowledges as much.
"I'm really lucky," he says before taking a deep breath.
Maybe he wants to take that comment back. In the past year, Mencia, as much as anyone, has learned of the backlash that comes with success. Since rising to stardom, Mencia has become something of a target for other comedians, who claim he steals material to use in his act.
They've been backing these claims by flooding the Internet, especially YouTube, with clips that compare and contrast bits, or show Mencia getting flustered as his accusers confront him. And their arguments are starting to stick; in fact, when Maxim published an article listing the worst comedians of all-time, they named Mencia as the 12th-worst.
(Granted, one of his more outspoken critics, Joe Rogan, is a frequent contributor to that publication.)
But despite all the hate, Mencia's been consistent, doing his all to let it roll off his shoulders.
"I never get pissed off," he says. "I never take any of this stuff seriously."
It's the only thing he can do, really. His critics haven't exactly been giving his denials the time of day.
"You know what this is to me?" Mencia continues. "A sign that I've made it. A sign that I've become successful."
But Mencia certainly doesn't agree that he deserves the attack. He says it's just an attempt at subversion by a group of malcontents.
"We think in this country that if someone else fails, it makes room for you," Mencia says. "That's not how it works. If you were that good, it would've happened for you by now."
Mencia understands that. For years, he was the same way.
"I was a cocky little shit," he says, laughing. "I thought I had to have a chip on my shoulder to get to the next level."
Mencia instead credits his success to hard work and, more than anything, good timing with Comedy Central. He wants his enemies to know that.
And, in a grand stroke of irony, the Man Who Won't Shut Up offers this suggestion to them: "Just shut up and do your job. Make people laugh, and shut up."
World Arena, 3185 Venetucci Blvd.
Saturday, April 28, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $33-$43; visit ticketswest.com.
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