The Latino Dave

As everybody and their mamas pray that Dave Chappelle will finally unload a new season of Chappelle's Show, Comedy Central has yet another comic provocateur ready to push buttons, envelopes or whatever the hell else there is to push these days.

Latino stand-up vet Carlos Mencia will be translating his caustic, unabashed, un-PC brand of humor to the small screen with his very own show, Mind of Mencia, set to air on the network on July 7. (He'll be in town this week to perform and promote the show at the Improv.) The Honduras-born, East L.A.-bred Mencia has made a comfortable living for the last 18 years making fun of racial stereotypes, modern-day absurdities and other things that piss him the hell off -- like Taco Bell.

"What the fuck is an 'enchirito'?" he once spat during a routine. "Did a burrito fuck an enchilada?" Mencia went on to point out a possible conspiracy by PepsiCo, which owns Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken. "Black people always work at Taco Bell," he said. "Mexican people always work at Kentucky Fried Chicken. And I'm thinking, 'Why don't they let us switch jobs? What, are they afraid we're gonna eat the food?' " If network TV -- even cable -- wasn't ready for this type of racial candor, say, ten years ago, thanks to Chappelle's ridiculous success, they're ready for it now.

Mencia is ready for it now too, and he's cool with people calling him the "Latino Dave Chappelle." "I owe so much to Chappelle," says Mencia. "I think what he proved was not only that financially there is a market for it, but people actually want to see that stuff and they think it's funny."

They may think it's racist too, but Mencia disagrees. "People say, 'You're racist,' " he once said. "And I say, 'How can I be racist? Isn't racism exclusionary? If all of you are offended, that means I'm including every race in my jokes.' "

Thanks for thinking of us, Carlos.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Craig D. Lindsey
Contact: Craig D. Lindsey