published Friday, March 9th, 2012

Comedian Carlos Mencia is smaller, but still funny

IF YOU GO

What: Comedian Carlos Mencia.

When: 7 tonight and 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Vaudeville Cafe, 138 Market St.

Admission: $25.

Phone: 517-1839.

Website: www.funnydinner.com.

Comedy fans can see Carlos Mencia this weekend at Vaudeville Cafe, though they will see a lot less of the nationally recognized comic.

"I've lost 70 pounds," he said.

"I didn't lose it for any Hollywood reasons. I was inspired by a friend who got diabetes because he was overweight. He was looking at having to get a toe amputated, and he said, 'Don't do what I did.' He said he didn't even think that he was that overweight."

Mencia said he tends to do things to extremes, so he kept dieting until his doctor said, "That's enough."

"The weird thing is, thin people who see me are congratulatory and fat people are [angry]. It's like they see it as me saying to them the way you are is not right. That's not who I am."

Mencia is a comic who has seemingly done it all when it comes to working. He was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, one of 18 children. He moved to California at age 3 months. His comedy career began at the famed Laugh Factory in Los Angeles where he did amateur nights. Those led to regular gigs on the LA circuit, and then he was named International Comedy Grand Champion from "Buscando Estrellas," the Latin version of "Star Search."

That opened the door for appearances on "In Living Color," "The Arsenio Hall Show," "Moesha" and "An Evening at the Improv."

He's released several comedy albums and DVDs and has been featured in several films and comedy specials. "Mind of Mencia" debuted on Comedy Central in 2005, averaging 1.5 million viewers. Mencia was seemingly everywhere.

Today he is doing as many stand-up dates as he can.

"Every career I know of in this business goes up and down," he said. "I got funny about five years into my career. After about eight or 10 years into it, I learned how to mesh funny with my inner thoughts, and for the last 15 or 18 years, I've been solidly funny.

"I've done sold-out shows and some that didn't sell well. The funny thing is, none of it is based on how funny I am. It's more a perception and timing. I've learned you have to strike when you are hot and prepare for those opportunities."

Mencia said the presidential election is providing plenty of new material for him, but not in the way some might expect.

"Every other comedian is talking about how bad the economy is, and I'm talking about how great America is.

"People leave my shows happy. That's my job."

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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