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Whatever Happened To Carlos Mencia?

The Famous People reports that Carlos Mencia is a Honduran-born American comedian, actor, and writer known for having a particularly edgy brand of comedy. At the height of his career, he was the star, creator, and co-writer of the popular Comedy Central sketch comedy show "Mind of Mencia" ("speaking his mind and taking no prisoners," according to IMDb). Toward the middle-end of the 2000s, he was everywhere in the world of comedy. Then, suddenly, he seemed to have fallen off the face of the Earth around 2008. For the casual observer, it seems like he hasn't done much in the mainstream comedy scene over the last decade and change.

Why did he suddenly go dark? The reason for his almost complete disappearance from the scene is convoluted and marred in controversy. It's a story of muddled accusations and pot-calling-the-kettle-black-drama that feels like it was ripped straight out of a high school lunchroom. For fans of the scorned comic, there is a bit of a happy ending. But let's first take a look at the timeline of events which put Mencia in the position he's in today.

His fellow comedians accused him of stealing jokes

A few of his fellow comedians accused him of joke theft, including bits from the likes of Jeff Foxworthy, George Lopez (above), and even Bill Cosby. As a matter of fact, there is a notorious YouTube video of one particular Cosby joke which clearly shows Mencia performing an uncannily similar gag on stage many years after Cosby did.

But was Mencia outright stealing, or just being an innovator? Go back and watch that video of the Cosby joke again. Cosby's performance is scatterbrained and borderline nonsensical. Mencia's performance has a more logical, detailed flow, it's more impassioned, and he puts a twist on it at the end: instead of being "okay" with the child saying hello to his mother, the father who had trained his son to become a professional athlete reacts with rage at not getting his credit where credit was due. Structurally, both jokes are very similar, but the delivery and the punchline are distinctly different.

Mencia also admitted that he stole jokes in a Showtime documentary about the comedy industry (also on YouTube), but he compared his "stealing" to how rappers sample older music to create a new and different work of art. Mencia's not the only successful comedian to be accused of recycling others' material for profit, either. One of the worst offenders in a sea of joke-recycling comedians, by far, is Denis Leary, reports Vulture, who is rumored to have built his career on the back of many hilarious yet less successful colleagues.

Mencia also shot himself in the foot with a joke that went a little too far

Back in 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall directly on top of New Orleans, Louisiana. It hit land as a category 4 storm and did a devastating amount of damage that can't even be put into words. It killed over 1,800 people and did $125 billion — with a "b" — worth of damage to the city. To say it was a tragedy is a woeful understatement.

In the aftermath, Mencia did himself the disservice of punching down at the victims, cracking a joke (via Tuko) about how Katrina showed that "black people don't know how to swim." While he built a career out of being mildly offensive and exploiting stereotypes for the sake of a laugh, many thought the joke was in poor taste (and they weren't wrong). But Mencia isn't the only comedian to suffer backlash from a bad joke. Other comedians — including Roseanne Barr, Dana Carvey, and Andrew Dice Clay — have also shamed themselves out of the industry for taking a joke just a little too far.

Mencia eventually broke his silence and addressed the controversy

It took a while, but Mencia eventually broke his silence about the controversy in 2019 during an interview with Humberto Guida on the LATV Network (posted on YouTube). In their discussion, Mencia admits that there were "suicidal moments" as a result of the backlash and the nosedive his career took. He also confessed that, even though he wanted to fight back, he followed the advice of his management and Comedy Central higher-ups and decided to stay silent, which made him look guilty and cost him valuable business opportunities.

Mencia also brought up the fact that he's never stolen a joke from Joe Rogan as a dig at the podcaster and MMA aficionado. We suspect he aimed that particular jab at him because Rogan basically spearheaded the movement to bully Mencia out of comedy (via Rogan's podcast, on YouTube). To this day, Mencia is still waiting for an apology (which some might argue he rightly deserves). But nobody familiar with Rogan and his mentality is holding their breath while they wait. 

Mencia's career in comedy never actually ended

Mencia may have gone dark for several years, but he never retired from comedy completely. He's still working hard and putting out a good amount of content. He's also living in Los Angeles with his wife Amy and their son, Lucas Pablo Mencia (via Chicago Tribune Business in 2007).

Currently, he's spinning a lot of plates which many comedy fans might not be aware of. He's got a podcast on iTunes called The Journey which you can listen to for free (where he encourages mask-wearing and other safe Covid practices, by the way) and has been putting out content on Facebook for years. According to his website, Mencia has also started touring again. Between now and the fall of 2022 he's scheduled to perform in seven different states and 12 different cities, including Las Vegas, San Antonio, and Tampa. 

Regardless of whether you dislike his particular brand of humor or think he's a joke-stealing hack, he's still out there creating content and getting paid well enough to live in Beverly Hills while supporting himself and his extended family. He's also enthusiastically following his personal mantra: "If you ain't laughin', you ain't livin'."