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Carlos Mencia | 03.22.09

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comedy_mencia_sm.jpgOnstage, Mencia is full-throttle, uncensored, and alternately pissed off and hilarious.

 

mencia-sitting.jpg

 The Pageant, St. Louis

Just about a year ago, stand-up comedian Carlos Mencia played to a nearly packed house at the Fox Theater, filled with fans of his popular Comedy Central show "Mind of Mencia." Perhaps a sign of the times, on Sunday night he played at the Pageant (less than half the size of the Fox) and barely filled the bottom level. But no matter - Mencia didn't seem to let it bother him that people are spending less money on entertainment these days. For those who turned out, Mencia delivered nearly three hours of non-stop, continuously funny and brilliant stand-up. In fact, after going nearly an hour over his designated time slot, he even came back out and did an encore. He may just be the hardest working man in comedy.

Mencia might have grown up in the gang-ridden projects of East L.A. (the 17th of 18 children), but he has risen straight to the top of the comedy world to emerge as one of the most sharply observant commentators on American society today (in the tradition of comics like George Carlin).

Since "Mind of Mencia" debuted on Comedy Central in early 2005, it has become one of the network's top shows, filling a void left by Dave Chappelle's abrupt departure. Onstage, Mencia is full-throttle, uncensored and alternately pissed off and hilarious. By the time he finished, my stomach hurt from laughing so hard.

Throughout his lengthy set, Mencia took on a broad range of topics from the differences between pop music, R&B and rap, to the struggling economy, the war in Iraq and even Barack Obama. Yes, he had the audacity to make fun of our newest and most popular president - saying that he looked like Curious George ("because of the ears!"), and that if Joe Biden showed up in a yellow suit and hat "you'd all do a double-take."  He went on to declare Obama actually the first "half-white" president, saying, "It's not like we elected Flavor Flav!"

When a heckler (there's always one in the crowd, isn't there?) continued to shout at him, while he politely tried to ignore the guy, Mencia handled it like a total pro - focusing his attention on the heckler. Never missing a beat, he let the guy have his say, and picked up his joke right where he left off.

Mencia got a bit serious toward the end of the set, reflecting on a trip to Iraq to entertain the troops and meeting one particular soldier who never made it back to base in time for the show because he was killed that day. His serious side, however, is always well balanced with his funny side and a strong sense of political commentary.

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Probably my favorite part of the show (or the part in which I nearly fell off my chair laughing) was the encore, in which Mencia illustrated to the audience how "Playing the right R&B song can even make fucking this barstool look sexy." He then proceeded, in time with the loud, sexy bass rhythm, to disrobe down to his underwear and simulate sex with a barstool. It may have been one of the funniest things I have ever seen someone do in person. He followed this with a string of classic dirty jokes - the perfect way to end a Sunday evening.

Though Mencia might have been a bit disappointed in ticket sales, he gave about 150 percent in his performance - not even repeating material he had done on his blockbuster tour last year - ensuring that at least this fan will be back for more the next time he comes around. | Amy Burger

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