Carlos Mencia: Performance Enhanced
In the United States we have something very rare in the history of the world. Our constitution grantees us the freedom of speech protecting our rights to say things that are unpopular even if they oppose polices of our government. Most of us take this right for granted not thinking about are precious this right is for us. Over the years there have been many champions of this freedom. One of the most outspoken is Larry Flynt, a pornographer who has put money and jail time on the line to protect his first amendment rights as well as ours. More frequently it is the stand up comedian who pushed the limits and tests either the laws or social standings on this basis. In the early sixties comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested because his stand up act was deemed obscene. Now the use of foul language and politically charged statements are fairly common place in comedy. Many times the acts are vulgar just because pioneers like Bruce and Richard Pryor made the road possible for them. One modern comedian stands out as one who follows the footsteps of these greats but does so in an intelligent and though provoking fashion. This comedian is Carols Mencia. He has been a regular on the stand up comedy circuit for many years and has been expressing himself on his hit Comedy Central series ‘The Mind of Mencia’ for three years now. Mencia has returned to his roots with a new stand up comedy special called ‘Carlos Mencia: Performance Enhanced’. As usual for this talented man he does not pull his punches. He lets loose with both barrels about anything and everything that upsets him. What makes him so funny is these same topics have bothered most of us. He openly states what most of us have thought. Mencia is the rare performer who is able to bring his audience close. Even his TV show is basically set up like his stand up act with the live audience within reach of the comedian. This new act is available on DVD through Comedy Central through their parent company of Paramount. It is admittedly not for the easily offended. The performance is uncensored; much like the mind within this man. It is for people who like to be exposed to a different perspective of our society.
One of the best things about Mencia is he is not a passive comedian. He openly challenges the audience at every possible point. After you laugh at his jokes you think about them. He may employ insulting terms and pejorative phrases routinely in his act but he is fair. He is as quick to point out the foibles of his Latin heritage as he is to focus his acerbic wit on Blacks, Asians and white people. As he frequently explains these words only have the power to hurt and insult that we give them. By making fun of the words and stereotypes he deflates them; reducing them to the absurd things that they are. His now famous catch phrase ‘Dit dit dit’ refers to the outright stupidity that many people have towards what he sees as obviously wrong. More times than not you will see it his way and laugh. Comedy comes naturally to Mencia. He was one of 18 children. There were so many of them that his parents sent him to live with a nearby aunt and uncle. He is also a very intelligent man. While many of his peers were joining gangs and getting into trouble Mencia worked hard at school and eventually graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from the California State University, Los Angeles. In recent years Mencia has been accused of stealing jokes and bits from other comedians. Some feel that observational humor is based on the same types of situations and subject to the delivery of the comedian. Others feel that Mencia outright lifts at least part of his routine from others. That being said he remains a fresh and funny person who has the ability to make us all laugh. Considering the problems we all face with the economy, war and terrorism we all need a laugh and Mencia provides them.
The title of this act refers to the controversy over the use of steroids in sports. Many athletes now feel the need to enhance their performance artificially. This particular performance was recorded at the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida on February 2, 2008. He starts the work of connecting with the audience with a local joke. At the casino there were a lot of fireworks. He states that the Cubans in the audience must be happy thinking that Castro just died. Mencia is unable too contain the amount of energy he possesses. He is in constant motion; pacing back and forth on the stage like a caged animal. You will almost feel sorry for the camera man who has to follow him. Instead of focusing on the negatives right away he talks about how great it is to be alive at this time in history. A black man is reaching for the office of President of the United States. He goes into how he has met black people who won’t vote for Obama and gives some racially charged material to support it. Mencia then has a laugh at the white people in the audience telling them that you can’t tell this joke tomorrow at work without sounding racist. This is typical of his brand of humor pointing out how the lingering racism in this country does little more than divide us. He goes into how much of the basis for racism is in the past. He uses as an example a Native American talking to a grade school class about how the white man took their land. One boy stands up and says that you fought, we won and we kept it. He then continues on how the boy had to eat Mac and Cheese for a week because his father lost his paycheck at a casino. Political correctness has left the building and it is only a few minutes into the act. He hates the double standard that he can tell a racial joke because he is Latin American but a white person can’t. Of course he relishes the double standard as enabling his act. He also notes that most white people are not racist; they are not all like Dog the Bounty Hunter. No one is safe from his rapid fire comments. Mencia even sets his sights on superheroes. Growing up he watched as the superheroes kicked butt but now heroes like Spider-Man whine and cry about responsibility and not being understood. His suggestion is for Spider-Man to go and take a pottery class. There is also a significant portion of his act where he speaks about his trip to the Middle East. He notes that what he is free to say here in the States is a bit dicier over there.
As usual Comedy Central gives you a little more than just the performance. There is a appearance of Mencia on MTV’s ‘Cribs’ series and a Judge Carlos bit from his series. There are also a few Quickies that feature skits from other Comedy Central series. This is a run albeit adult romp through the things that are wrong with the world.