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Comedian Carlos Mencia says he's speaking what people are thinking

Los Angeles Times

"How come you don't make fun of Albanians?"

That's the kind of complaint that typically turns up in comedian Carlos Mencia's e-mail, a peculiar but somehow satisfying echo of the aggressive, everybody's-fair-game, comedic commentary he's been spouting in his stand-up shows and TV appearances for almost 20 years, most recently on his popular half-hour Comedy Central showcase, "Mind of Mencia."

The more ethnic stereotypes and hypocritical behavior that he drags out into the spotlight and mercilessly mocks in his brazen bits, the more groups of people want to be included in the beating.

"I just like obliterating what people think is right and wrong," the 38-year-old comic said in a recent interview. "Because of how I manifest my thoughts on stage, people feel singled out when I don't talk about them."

"Mind of Mencia," now midway through its second season, is Mencia's highest-profile forum yet for stomping through the delicate garden of political correctness. An amalgam of stand-up, audience interaction, sketches, parodies and man-on-the-street interviews, the show allows him to both impersonate and lampoon the cultural tics of Anglos, blacks, Latinos, Middle Easterners, Indians, gays, women, sheiks, rappers, dictators and pimps.

"Mind of Mencia" has taken over from the similarly structured "Chappelle's Show" as the second-highest rated program on Comedy Central next to "South Park."

Mencia's material may be audacious and profanity-laden, but often his sketches cleverly puncture stereotypes -- like the bit about picking up a few Latino day laborers at Home Depot to do some repair tiling work on the space shuttle.

To Mencia, the show's appeal is simple: "As long as there's some truth to it, my audience goes with it."

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