Marking His Territory
Carlos Mencia returns with a focused and original special of new material
By Michael Shashoua / Jester Editor-in-Chief
Carlos Mencia has always attracted a lot of criticism from fellow comedians, with accusations of stealing jokes and bumping other comics of lesser standing out of bookings at the last minute. He addressed these to some extent on Marc Maron’s podcast two years ago, and after all that time, now re-emerges on the media landscape with a new special, “New Territory,” airing on Comedy Central on Sunday, December 4 and on DVD on December 6.
These issues are being amply covered elsewhere in the material, so let’s just focus on the quality of his material itself. To some extent, Mencia does still like to use a few themes to frame everything – like how people misunderstand the news and misunderstand his non-politically correct takes on things. But on this special he does that a little less than when seen performing four years ago and on his old show, “Mind of Mencia.”
Instead, with his fitter, slimmer appearance, Mencia stalks the stage and appears more animated and driven, perhaps on fire to prove himself all over again. And he does. Mencia focuses his material on scenarios and commentary more often than chatter leading up to it or talking about how audiences have reacted. When he does, it is inspired and funny, and indeed original.
Talking about the Arizona immigration law, Mencia frames it in terms of his brother, a US citizen, who still talks with a thick Mexican accent and a friend from the UK who’s in the US illegally. Which one is more likely to be hassled by police, Mencia asks. Complete with portrayals of the different voices and what they would say. On the same topic, Mencia puts this in broader relief imagining an illegal alien working at the McDonald’s drive-thru as an example of so-called “taking our jobs” not being a valid argument.
On a similar topic, Mencia also riffs on Americans feeling entitled when they travel abroad, like expecting air conditioning in every country. He puts himself in the role, describing going to see the “real” Jamaica. And his mimicking of a Jamaican hotel clerk taunting him sells the story successfully. There’s more on those cultural differences that follows, complete with more foreign voices, that heightens and carries along the riffs.
So really, having delivered a masterful 80-minute long special (at least that’s the length of the DVD edition), Mencia deserves respect. He takes all the skepticism that might be directed at him, imagined or otherwise, and material about American politics and society from his direct point of view, and makes it all entertaining.
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© 2005-2017 Michael Shashoua