One of the most legendary interviews of Marc Maron’s legendary WTF podcast was a two-part interview with comedian Carlos Mencia in 2010. Mencia is a stand-up who had a successful Comedy Central show called “Mind of Mencia” during the mid-2000s and was a very popular stand-up comedian in his own right. My own feelings about Mencia? I enjoyed “Mind of Mencia.” I never went out of way to watch it or could call myself a great fan, but I thought the show was enjoyable enough. However, Mencia is probably known more nowadays (rightly or wrongly) for charges of being a “joke-thief,” which came to a head in 2007 when comedian Joe Rogan confronted Mencia at the Comedy Store with these charges, which was caught on video and spread like wildfire across the internet at the time.
In 2010, Mencia appeared on Maron’s podcast to discuss these charges and the first part of this interview seems very persuasive towards Mencia’s point-of-view. As someone who majored in Rhetoric as an undergrad, I have to say that Mencia argues his points extremely well emotionally. If you know nothing else about the controversy, Mencia is very persuasive. However, after the interview is over, Maron expresses that he felt that Mencia wasn’t being entirely honest, so Maron talked to some of Mencia’s peers who refuted many of Mencia’s claims in subsequent interviews. Maron himself even talks of a time that Mencia was a last-minute lead-in to a gig that Maron was supposed to host … and stayed on stage for 2 hours (a major no-no in the comedy world) … to the point where Maron abandoned the gig. During Part 2 of the interview, even Mencia acknowledges that the gesture was a f–k you to Maron at the time.
So … Maron asked Mencia to address these charges in a follow-up interview … which Mencia … surprisingly … agreed to. Part 2 of the interview is where things get VERY real and intense between Maron and Mencia. To Mencia’s credit, he really does seem to try to come to terms with the bad stuff he’s done, but … he doesn’t quite get there.
This is truly one of the most uncomfortable interviews I’ve ever experienced … mainly because the person being interviewed is someone who’s made a lot of mistakes and is trying to come to terms with all the bad stuff he’s done over the years. He’s trying to deal with it in an honest way, but he can’t help but be defensive because he hasn’t quite processed the damage he may have done. If what’s been said against Mencia is true, he truly does deserve the crap that’s reigned down upon him. Hearing Mencia acknowledge the damage he’s done … while denying the dignity of the complaints … is a masterstroke of denial. Mencia is VERY convincing and does make some good points. But at the same time, you also want to shake your head at the mental and verbal gymnastics taking place here.
What ultimately comes across is someone being forced to deal with the totality of their life’s decisions and how their decisions (frequently bad) over several years are now coming to a head. If anyone listens to the second part of this interview and still thinks Mencia is an unredeemable piece of s–t is someone who has never made a mistake or been called out for the totality of their bad decisions. Mencia may not be a great … or even good … human being. But if you listen to this and don’t feel lucky for not being called out publicly on your own BS, you’re a better human being that I could ever hope to be … or you’re a lying sack of s–t.
Again, this is one of the most uncomfortable interviews I’ve ever listened to, but if you have any interest in comedy … or psychology … this almost 2.5 hour compilation of interviews is a must-hear. This may not quite be the final two hours of the infamous “Frost / Nixon” interviews, but for the comedy world, this comes really close.
Pt . 1: