Comics are show business's most tireless social climbers, the men and women who want to be Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey or Sandra Bullock. But they'll settle for being George Lopez. Or Kathy Griffin.
Carlos Mencia has a cable TV show, Mind of Mencia. He has had HBO specials. He packs 'em in when he plays big venues. He was at the UCF Arena on Sept. 21.
But what he wants is "the movies, man."
"I'll tell you what it is," he says. "Movies are like that unbelievably beautiful blond chick you know you're never gonna get. Movies are the Katherine Heigls, the Scarlett Johanssons of this life. I'm chasing that. I believe, in my heart of hearts, that I'm worthy.
"But stand-up comedy? That's my booty call. I'm chasing the blond goddess, but I know my limitations, bro. When I don't get her, I'm on the phone to The Comedy Store. 'Can I please do my act tonight? I need you, baby!' "
Honduran-born Mencia turns 40 on Oct. 22, and he's on the upper steps of the comedy ladder. High enough to be a headliner, to have a cable deal. And to land plum supporting parts in movies such as the Farrelly Brothers' comedy
He plays Uncle Tito, a Mexican bartender who's probably a little too into American porn.
"Gave him a porn-star moustache, the Mexican pompadour," Mencia says, laughing. "I can do that because I'm Honduran! This guy, he isn't a stereotype. He lives in Mexico. He's learned English to work in this resort. He's supposed to have the thick accent.
"You know where I found this guy? I called my Uncle Jose, who's from Mexico, and we talked for two hours. Totally ripped off his accent. I'm gonna pay for that when I see him!"
Mencia has been tiptoeing on stand-up's cutting edge for a few years. His act is a little raw and a lot un-PC. He was perhaps the only comic who could do that funny Budweiser "English-as-a-second-language" TV spot this past Super Bowl.
"I get away with stuff, sure," he says. "But I hate that. Everybody should get away with the [stuff] I say."
Mencia takes hits for using racial stereotypes in his act, and for the act itself. Some comics and Internet critics accuse him of swiping material. YouTube is peppered with videos of Mencia bits and their earlier Bill Cosby, and other stand-up comic, antecedents.
Maxim magazine went after him last year, naming him "the 12th worst comedian of all time."
"I've taken my lumps," Mencia says, chuckling. "Carrot Top is hated on because he's a successful prop comic. Tom Cruise has all these 'He's gay' rumors because he's successful.
"Hating? It comes from being successful. 'Why him, why not me?' comes from being successful. The more hate I get, the more hate somebody like Carrot Top gets, that's the best sign I have that we're doing really well."
Roger Moore can be reached at Rmoore@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5369. Read more of his chat with Carlos Mencia on his blog, Frankly My Dear, at Orlandosentinel.com.
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