Carlos Mencia in concert in 2009.
|Born||Ned Arnel Mencía
October 22, 1967
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
|Other names||Ned Holness|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, writer|
Ned Arnel Mencia (born October 22, 1967), known professionally as Carlos Mencia (and previously Ned Holness) is a Honduran-born American comedian, writer, and actor. His style of comedy is often political and involves issues of race, culture, criminal justice, and social class. He is best known as the host of the Comedy Central show Mind of Mencia which produced four seasons before being cancelled in 2008.
Mencía was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the seventeenth of eighteen children. His mother, Magdelena Mencía, was Mexican, and his father, Roberto Holness, was Honduran. At the time of his birth, Mencía's mother was engaged in a domestic dispute with his father, and declined to give her son his biological father's last name. The name appearing on his birth certificate is "Ned Arnel Mencía," although Mencia has said that out of respect for his biological father, he went by the Holness name anyway, and was known as "Ned Holness" until he was eighteen years old.
Mencia was raised Roman Catholic in East Los Angeles, California, by his aunt Consuelo and uncle Pablo Mencia. By his own admission, staying out of trouble was difficult while growing up, but with the help of his family, he excelled in school and stayed out of gangs. He attended Garfield High School in Los Angeles County. Mencia dealt drugs when he was 19 years old and burglarized a house. He majored in electrical engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, but left early to pursue a career in comedy after a successful performance at an open mic night at The Laugh Factory. He has an older brother named Joseph Mencia who often appeared on Mind of Mencia.
In 1988, Mitzi Shore, owner of The Comedy Store suggested that Mencia change his first name from "Ned" to "Carlos" in order to appeal to the Mexican audiences. Mencia performed at venerated LA stand-up venues such as The Comedy Store and The L.A. Cabaret. His success in these venues led to appearances on The Arsenio Hall Show and Buscando Estrellas, where he attained the title "International Comedy Grand Champion." Then, in 1994, Mencia was chosen to host HBO's latino comedy showcase Loco Slam.
Mencia followed up Loco Slam by hosting Funny is Funny! on Galavision in 1998. He would continue to do stand-up, including a very successful tour in 2001 with Freddy Soto and Pablo Francisco, "The Three Amigos." Mencia also did two half-hour specials on HBO, the second of which won him a CableACE Award for Best Stand-Up Comedy Special. After the release of his first comedy album by Warner Records, Take A Joke America, Mencia performed his break-out performance on Comedy Central Presents in 2002.
By the time his career began to take off in the early 2000s, Mencia was also working as an actor doing guest appearances in the television shows Moesha and The Shield, and starring in the film Outta Time and the animated show The Proud Family.
In March 2005, Comedy Central announced Mencia's own half-hour comedy show, Mind of Mencia. The show mixed Mencia's stand up comedy with sketch comedy, much like Dave Chappelle's Chappelle's Show. The show achieved moderate success in its first season and was brought back for a second season in the spring of 2006, becoming Comedy Central's second highest-rated program behind South Park. It was brought back for a third season that summer before being cancelled in 2008. Mind of Mencia was produced by Nedlos, a portmanteau of Mencia's birth name and the name he took prior to naturalizing in the US.
Mencia is sometimes a guest on the Opie and Anthony radio show on XM Satellite Radio and CBS Radio. He took part in the first Opie and Anthony's Traveling Virus Comedy Tour in 2006. In 2002, he performed on "Comedy Central Presents."
Mencia starred in a Super Bowl XLI commercial for Bud Light. In November 2009, Mencia began appearing commercials for a weight-loss product called Belly Burner, which he has claimed to have used personally.
Mencia went on a 2011 stand-up comedy tour, including dates at the Improv in Schaumburg, Illinois, on June 24 and 25, and ending in Las Vegas at Treasure Island on Friday, September 16, 2011.
A 2010 Wall Street Journal article noted that Mencia, along with Dane Cook and Jay Leno, were three of the most hated popular stand-ups by fellow comedians. In 2006, Maxim named Mencia one of the worst comedians of all time. Mike Byoff of Gawker said of Mencia, "Not only does he steal jokes from classic comedians but he's needlessly racist and had [sic] no sense of comedic timing whatsoever."
In 2005, comedian Joe Rogan wrote a post on his website publicly accusing Mencia of being a plagiarist, alleging that Mencia stole jokes from a number of comedians. On February 10, 2007, Rogan confronted Mencia on stage at the Comedy Store on Sunset and continued his allegations of plagiarism. Rogan posted a video of the altercation with audio and video clips from other comedians including George Lopez, Reverend Bob Levy, Bobby Lee, and Ari Shaffir, among others. Rogan has also posted audio and video clips of Mencia's interviews and joke routines comparing Mencia's routines to those of other comedians on his blog.
Comedian George Lopez also accused Mencia of plagiarizing his material. In an interview on The Howard Stern Show, Lopez accused Mencia of plagiarizing 13 minutes of his material in Mencia's HBO special. He also claimed he had a physical altercation with Mencia over the alleged plagiarism. The only joke that Lopez has publicly specified was stolen and used on Mencia's HBO special was a Taco Bell joke. Comedian Ted Sarnowski countered this claim, stating that the joke he performed on radio in 1988 was later taken and used without permission by Lopez, the radio station's resident comic. Sarnowski claims to have given Mencia permission to use the joke.
Mencia has also been accused of stealing a routine from Bill Cosby. In his special, No Strings Attached, Mencia performs a bit about a father who spends years training his son for a career as a football player, only to see the son say "I love you, Mom!" at his moment of televised victory. Cosby performed a similar bit in his concert film Bill Cosby: Himself and wrote briefly on the subject in his book Fatherhood. Mencia told the Los Angeles Times that he had never seen the film but regretted the similarities between his and Cosby's jokes.
The accusations of Mencia's plagiarism were referenced in "Fishsticks," the April 8, 2009 episode of the animated TV series South Park, in which Mencia takes credit for a joke that Jimmy Valmer writes in the episode. When faced with the prospect of being assaulted, he admits, "I took credit for it because I'm not actually funny!... I just take jokes and repackage them with a Mexican accent!" The character is then killed by Kanye West.
In 2011, Mencia stated in an interview that he had been in therapy due to accusations of plagiarism.
In February 2009, Mencia was dropped from the Krewe of Orpheus' celebrity lineup for New Orleans Mardi Gras, citing inappropriate comments he made in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Mencia remarked during his stand up: "I'm glad Hurricane Katrina happened. It taught us an important lesson: Black people can't swim."
Mencia has also appeared on Comic Relief, and hosted Loco Slam in 1994, Latino Laugh Festival in 1997, Funny is Funny! in 1998, and Uncensored Comedy: That's Not Funny in 2003.
Media related to Carlos Mencia at Wikimedia Commons