Arts & Culture

The mind of Mencia returns to Cedar Rapids

Comedian at Penguins Comedy Club this weekend

Carlos Mencia is returning to Cedar Rapids for three shows from Friday (8/9) to Saturday (8/10) at Penguins Comedy Club. (Shearer Public Relations)
Carlos Mencia is returning to Cedar Rapids for three shows from Friday (8/9) to Saturday (8/10) at Penguins Comedy Club. (Shearer Public Relations)

Carlos Mencia is well aware that the Iowa caucuses are just six months away.

“You know that means that all of those politicians are going to inundate Iowa,” Mencia said. “That’s what they do every four years, and then you won’t see those people in Iowa for another four years. But you’ll see me in Cedar Rapids every year without fail.”

The veteran comic, who hosted the Comedy Central sketch show, “The Mind of Mencia,” could perform close to home and to a particular audience, but he doesn’t want to do that.

“It would be easy for me to pick 50 cities out here,” Mencia said while calling from his Los Angeles home. “I could do the Pacific Northwest, California and Texas, and I would do 100 shows. I could play shows in Texas and perform in front of Jose, who is certain our comic sensibilities will go hand in hand.

“I could play a 3,000-seat theater in San Antonio and then go to Cedar Rapids and make 70 percent less in a smaller room. But I want to come in and play Iowa. I’ve been performing in Trump World for a very long time. I could stay on the outside, but I choose not to.”

Mencia, 51, who is a topical comic, will riff about the state of the country when he comes to Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids on Friday (8/9) and Saturday (8/10).

“America has gotten stagnant,” Mencia said. “People are comfortable where they are. We live in a society that doesn’t care about intellect. I think that’s because every American has the ability to answer whatever question they have, due to their device. I really don’t know how much things will change with the next election, since people are complacent.

“Will Millennials vote in the 2020 Presidential election? I think they would vote if this administration took their phones away. Then you would have a revolution, but that’s obviously not going to happen.”

More and more comics aren’t letting fans have access to their phones during shows, since they don’t want their material to be recorded.

“I can see why comics do that, but I don’t care if you record every minute of my show,” Mencia said. “I understand that comics are concerned what they say could be taken out of context. You saw what happened with Kevin Hart and how his joke was regarded as homophobic, and it cost him (the chance to host the Academy Awards in February). That’s why I don’t like Twitter. If I write something it may not reflect my sarcasm.

“It’s a tricky world for comics. It’s not like it once was,” he said. “It can be difficult, especially once you get to a certain level.”

About a decade ago during when “The Mind of Mencia” was on the air, a number of comics, most notably comic/UFC host Joe Rogan, claimed that Mencia was pilfering material. Rogan dubbed Mencia “Carlosmenstealia.”

“What happens in this country is that they like to build you up and then knock you off the pedestal,” Mencia said. “Me and Dane Cook were accused of stealing material, and nobody at that point was bigger than Dane. But what people like to do is knock you down. I have tangible proof that my jokes are mine. I’ve recorded every show I’ve done since 1994. Regarding Joe Rogan, I talked to him about it. He never accused me of anything specific. it was totally random.

“I don’t need to take anyone’s material. I have plenty of my own,” he said. “I have so much to talk about. That’s the way it’s always been with me and that’s the way it’s going to be for years to come.”

If you go

• WHAT: Carlos Mencia

• WHERE: Penguins Comedy Club, 208 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

• WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday (8/9); 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday (8/10)

• TICKETS: $32 advance, $35 door, $55 VIP; (319) 362-8133 or Penguinscomedyclub.com

• ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Carlosmencia.com

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